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Does stress lead to surgical mistakes?

When surgical mistakes happen, both injured parties and medical professionals often find themselves wondering how they could have occurred. How does a doctor with so much training and education make a potentially fatal mistake when it matters most?

One study suggests that stress could play a role in surgical mistakes. Surgeons do not get as much out of their training when they're stressed, and they do not master important skills as quickly.

The study said that they should act like it is a hobby, in a relaxing environment, to really become proficient. The study put students in an informal setting for relatively short five-hour sessions, rather than putting them into typical residency programs, and found far better skill development.

"It appears that by removing external stress factors associated with the notoriously competitive and harsh lifestyle of surgery residencies, stress levels during inanimate surgical training plummet," a professor noted after the study. "In five short sessions these students, approaching surgery for fun or as a hobby, had remarkable progress achieving dexterity levels similar to seasoned surgeons, at least in these drills."

It is worth noting that these were just drills, of course. That's not the same as carrying out a true surgical procedure, especially in an emergency situation. However, the way that students seemed to learn and thrive without long hours and a high-stress environment does still cast some doubt on whether or not the traditional hospital setting is one that really gives patients the best level of care.

If you suffer because of a surgical error, you may be able to seek financial compensation for your expenses.

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