Surgeons "emotionally affected" by OR complications
Researchers from Imperial College London in the U.K. say a recent survey of surgeons revealed that those who had experienced a surgical error within the past three months were more likely to have a lower quality of life and symptoms of fatigue and depression. The research was published in the British Journal of Surgery.
The researchers, led by Dr. Anna Pinto, looked to how surgeons are affected by surgical complications on a personal and professional level, as well as which factors play a part in their reactions, how they cope with these difficulties and their view on the support provided for them.
They interviewed 27 surgeons from two large teaching National Health Service (NHS) Trusts in London. To participate in the study, all surgeons had to be involved in general and vascular surgery–procedures with a higher risk of serious complications–and they had to be above “registrar level” with at least three years experience. All surgeons were required to take part in face-to-face interviews with an investigator who had a background in psychology and patient safety research.
The results showed that 26 out of 27 surgeons said that a surgical complication affected them emotionally, of which 15 said they felt guilt, and between three and eight surgeons said they had a crisis of confidence, felt worry for the patient and experienced anxiety or sadness. Furthermore, 21 of the surgeons said the complications had a behavioral impact, while 18 said their surgical practice had been affected. The researchers say that every surgeon referred to at least one situation when a surgical complication affected them personally and professionally.
From these findings, the researchers suggest that surgeons would really benefit from learning strategies aimed at coping with serious stress. They recommend that these initiatives should be in the form of surgical training, mentoring, mortality and morbidity meetings, focus on teamwork and psychological interventions.
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