No Added Risks for Evening Transplants

Surgeon fatigue has no impact on heart and lung transplant safety

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There has been mounting concern that surgeon fatigue has been leading to dangerous conditions for transplant patients. This was especially true of late night transplants if that is when a donor organ is available. New research from John Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests it's simply not the case.

Researchers compiled data that shows that at least in the case of heart and lung transplants, the time of day that the operation is performed has no impact on patient survival. Previous data has shown those receiving transplants at night may be subject to worse outcomes.

"Night time transplants are just as safe."

Researchers examined 10 years of heart and lung transplants through United Network of Organ Sharing data, which amounted to more than 27,000 U.S. surgeries. Those studied occurred between January 2000 and June 2010.

Of the 16,573 who underwent heart transplants, half were during the day and the other half at night. The survival rate for patients who received the operation during the day was 88 percent versus 87.7 percent for those who received a heart transplant at night.

For those that underwent lung transplants, 83.8 percent of patients who had a daytime operation survived versus a 82.6 nighttime survival rate.

Ashish S. Shah, an assistant professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and lead author of the study said the research team is not suggesting that fatigue is a good thing, only that it is not impacting patient survival rates or subjecting patients to added risks.

Shah added that the results were surprising since this marks the first study to suggest that sleep-deprived doctors and operations at odd hours do not add extra risk for patients. The length of the hospital stay also was the same regardless of the time of day that the transplant took place.

Heart and lung transplants are done immediately upon locating scarce organs that are a good match with no regard for time of day, making the research reassuring to both patients and physicians.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 1, 2011
Last Updated:
June 5, 2011