An Illinois malpractice lawyer wants surgeons to inform their patients as to whether or not they have had sufficient sleep prior to carrying out any operation. The lawyer, Patrick Salvi believes that this could prevent many malpractice suits being served on medical professionals.
Publishing a report in the New England Journal of Medicine Mr. Salvi said: “We’d like to say we’re surprised this is a problem – doctors not informing their patients that they aren’t in shape to operate or otherwise care for them – but we know better.”
He added: “We know, too, that re-scheduling any surgery, even an elective procedure, is not always a simple task. But it is a matter of the simplest integrity to advise a patient that their surgeon hasn’t slept, and that this is a safety factor they need to weigh.”
This is backed up by the Sleep Research Society who is supporting a change in the law. Making their feelings known in the Salvi report, the organisation said: “[physicians should] inform their patients of the extent and potential safety impact of their sleep deprivation and to obtain consent from such patients prior to providing clinical care or performing any medical or surgical procedures.”
Patrick Salvi, who has recuperated millions of dollars in recompense for his clients believes many of these malpractice suits could have been prevented if doctors just adopted safer procedures, including keeping patients informed of their own (that is the doctor’s) physical and mental well being.
Sleep deprivation can and does cause problems for the individual, but they should not put patients’ safety at risk.