Want to live through your next surgery – don’t schedule it for the afternoon! That’s the bombshell finding of a Duke University study. Researchers discovered that patients who were operated on between 3 and 4 P.M. had a much higher rate of nausea, post-op pain and death, compared to people operated on during any other time of day.
So, why is afternoon surgery so risky? Experts say that your body’s circadian rhythm dips starting around 3 P.M. and energy levels take a nose-dive. And surgical teams aren’t energy crash-proof, and suffer from the same afternoon sluggishness feeling like the rest of us! So they’re more likely to misread things like your heart rate or not be as fast responding to an emergency during surgery.
Another reason afternoon surgeries are dangerous? They often coincide with shift changes. Most hospital staff work 8 hour shifts and usually a whole new crew of anesthesiologists, and nurses take over at 3 P.M. – even if you’re in the middle of being operated on!
And even though they’re a fresh new team, with more energy - sometimes key details about the patient get lost during the shift change shuffle.
For example, the morning shift anesthesiologist might forget to tell the afternoon anesthesiologist that the patient is allergic to a certain medication, or has a heart condition and their breathing needs to be monitored. And either of those slip-ups could have deadly results.
Bottom line: Anytime you have surgery, schedule it for first thing in the morning when the whole staff is fresh and on their “A” game.