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Long shifts, nights on call lead to depression and burnout in surgeons

The more hours surgeons work each week, the more depressed and burned out they are, according to newly published survey data. Surgeons working 80 hours or more a week had the most problems. Nearly 40% reported being depressed, and more than 10% said they made a major medical error in the last three months, said the study, published in the November Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Nearly two-thirds of the surgeons who worked 80 hours a week said they had conflicts between work and personal obligations in the last three weeks. "There was a highly significant correlation with increasing hours and increasing nights on call associated with a detrimental impact on surgeons in almost every setting, both professionally and personally," said the study, based on a 2008 survey of 7,905 U.S. surgeons. "These trends were statistically significant in virtually every parameter surveyed: increased burnout rate, decreased quality of life, decreased career satisfaction, and increased w ...

Vitamin D and exercise may help prevent falls in elderly

Prescribing a vitamin D supplement and recommending exercise for patients 65 and older could reduce their risk of falling, according to a recent evidence review. The review, published in the Dec. 21, 2010, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, was commissioned by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to help the agency update its recommendation for preventing falls in the elderly. Before the guidelines are published, a draft will be posted for public comment online. The task force does not have recommendations on primary care physicians counseling patients on fall prevention. But in 1996, the task force reviewed the effectiveness of counseling to prevent household and recreational injuries, including falls, by age group. "There are interventions that are successful in preventing falls in older adults. ... That's important news, because falls are so common" in this age group, said lead review author Yvonne Michael, ScD, associate professor in the Dept. of Epidemiology and Bio ...

Mediation saves time and money in medical liability cases, study says

Mediation can help mitigate the costs -- both emotional and financial -- of medical liability lawsuits, according to a recent study. But without participation from physicians -- not just their lawyers -- other quality improvement benefits that can come from the litigation alternative get lost. "It seems pretty clear from the data that there is an economic case ... to support the notion mediation is a more efficient, cost-effective process," said Carol B. Liebman, a professor at Columbia Law School in New York. She co-wrote the report published in the October Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law ( "Our disappointment and surprise was hospitals and physicians are not using mediation in a way to help improve patient safety." The study analyzed 31 cases referred for mediation by various hospital organizations in New York City from 2006 to 2007. The voluntary process uses an impartial outside mediator to help resolve medical liability la ...