Should Surgeons Have Their Hours Capped?

July 18, 2018

The number of hours that surgeons work should be capped to reduce harmful mistakes caused by exhaustion and burnout, according to a recent editorial in the Journal of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee Surgery and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.

The researchers also say it's time to reduce stress-induced bad habits, such as excess drinking.

In the editorial, lead author C. Niek van Dijk, MD, PhD, notes that the working hours of airline pilots and train drivers are carefully monitored and that these employees are subject to testing for drugs and alcohol abuse. The same also applies in the United States to truck drivers.

"Why aren't we surgeons monitored and similarly prevented from overworking?" van Dijk asks. "Are we assumed to be morally superior because of our Hippocratic Oath? Or is it because we can only damage the occasional patient if we are exhausted, rather than an entire planeload?"

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