Study: Late Night Surgery Twice as Likely to Kill Patients as Daytime Operations

Research presented at last summer’s World Congress of Anesthesiologists in Hong Kong revealed a bit of a shocker: patients who undergo surgery at night are more prone to die, compared to those operated on during standard working hours.


(We Thank Michael A Keller for the very clever photo)

In other words, the later your surgery is, the greater the risk.

The findings, according to an in-depth study led by Doctor Michael Tessler and Doctor Ning Nan Wang, of the Anesthesia  Department at McGill University in Montreal Canada, surprised more than a few in attendance. They also learned that patients undergoing surgery in late afternoon and evening, also have a higher mortality rate.

Post-operative complication factors have been studied for decades. But the purpose of this particular evaluation was to determine if there is any corrolation between patient death rates and times of the day when surgeries occur. The research focused on a single, highly-rated Canadian hospital – Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

Night is not the ideal time to be in labor, either. One California study found a 25% greater risk of neonatal death following nighttime deliveries.

The researchers assessed all operations that took place over the previous 5 years, covering the period of April 2010 – March, 2015, that involved general anesthesia. Both emergency and elective cases were included.

The 24-hour day was divided into 3 time-frames: 7:30am to 3:29pm; 3:30 to 11:29pm; 11:30 to 7:29am. The surgical “start time” was considered to be when the first anesthetic was administered to each patient.

The researchers assessed just under 42,000 operations performed on 34,000 patients. (Some patients – such as emergency patients – require more than one procedure) About 10,500 were emergency patients.

“This study demonstrates that late day and night emergency surgeries are associated with higher mortality. Postoperative, 30-day in-hospital mortality rate should include start time of anesthesia, along with other known variables, as a risk factor.”

Researchers suspect tired medical staff as a key – but not the only – component to the problem.

Here’s another look:




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s