Late-night surgeries no longer mean more deaths

Contrary to previous studies, surgeries performed during the night are not associated with more deaths, according to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers compared thoracic organ transplant surgeries that occurred at night (7p.m.-7a.m.) with those during the day (7a.m.-7p.m.). They found there was no significant difference between survival rates up to a year after transplant.

Experts have long contended that the nighttime is a blackhole for provider communication, as well as a vulnerable period for physician fatigue, which has led to a 80-hour work week cap for medical residents. The study results may not necessarily mean nighttime procedures are less risky than daytime ones.

"We all think the risks are higher at night," Ashish S. Shah, assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the New York Times. "But across the country, it appears that we have figured how to do heart and lung transplants safely."

To learn more:
- read the JAMA study
- read the New York Times blog post

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