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Poll suggests medical professionals support hour caps

Surgeons and nurses have different ideas about whether hours working in operating rooms should be capped, according to a recent poll by Medscape. The first of the poll's questions asked if the hours that surgeons work should be capped to lower the number of harmful surgical errors; 87 percent of nurses said yes, compared with 57 percent of doctors. Nine percent of the nurses and ten percent of the doctors said they were unsure on the issue.

Nurses also thought other people in the operating room should have their hours capped more than those in other groups. Among nurses, 89 percent thought non-doctor hours in the OR, such as those of anesthesiologists and nurses, should be capped. Among anesthesiologists, only 62 percent thought capping hours was a good idea.

The Medscape poll comes following a story that noted the work hour limits imposed on train drivers and airline pilots. The story suggested that similar limits might be useful in the medical industry, to reduce the number of surgical errors in operations. A dissenting opinion was offered by an orthopedic surgeon, who said pilots were not analogous because they can be swapped out for other pilots at any point, even in the middle of a flight. Surgeons can't do that.

According to another surgeon though, limiting work hours and monitoring doctors for impairment will reduce errors during surgery. People who suffer injuries due to surgical errors might be entitled to recover for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages or other damages. An attorney with experience handling medical malpractice cases might be able to help by gathering evidence or conducting witness depositions. An attorney might secure a report from an expert witness, negotiate a settlement with healthcare professionals and facilities or argue on behalf of the client during hearings in civil court.

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