Patient complications take a toll on surgeons, study finds

A study published in JAMA Surgery found that surgical complications adversely affect a surgeon's health and emotional state.

Researchers conducted a literature review to find studies examining how patient complications affect surgeons. They searched the Medline, Embase, PubMed, Web of Science and Google Scholar databases from inception to May 1, 2018.

They found nine studies from the United Kingdom or North America, which included 8,518 unique participants. They also found one study conducted among surgical trainees.

The researchers' analysis showed surgeons were adversely affected emotionally after patient complications. They identified four themes:

● The adverse emotional influence of complications after intraoperative adverse events, including anxiety, guilt, sadness and shame
● Coping mechanisms used by surgeons and trainees, such as limited discussion with colleagues as well as alcohol and substance abuse
● Institutional support mechanisms and barriers to support, such as clinical conferences and the perception that distress could be viewed as weakness
● The consequences of complications in future clinical practice, including changes in practice and participating in root-cause analysis

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