Pennsylvania residents often feel a great deal of stress when they go to the hospital for surgery, but their doctor’s stress levels may have a significant effect on the outcome of their procedures. According to a study conducted by researchers at Columbia University, surgeons may make substantially more errors on patients during moments of stress in the operating room. The study made use of technologies that measure the electrical activity of the heart and found that both serious issues and minor incidents could affect surgical quality.

Every year, 250,000 to 440,000 people lose their lives in the United States due to medical mistakes. A significant number of the most serious doctor errors occur during surgery. Therefore, efforts to reduce surgical errors could also save lives lost due to these incidents. The research made use of a shirt usually used to measure athletes’ physiological responses to instead measure those of a surgeon while operating. Stress could be measured by increased heart rate variation, tracked by the shirt. At the same time, each surgery was recorded on a laparoscopic camera.

After the surgery, a medical reviewer watched the videos, noting when errors took place according to standard frameworks. By comparing the stress data and the error information, each stamped with the time of each incident, the researchers noted that stressful moments could lead to up to a 66 percent increase in surgical errors. These periods of stress could include items as minor as loud noises in the operating room.

Surgical errors are so concerning to patients because the results can be devastating, including damaged organs and permanent disabilities. People who have suffered a worsened medical condition as a result might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney to see what recourse might be available.