Background: The long work hours in surgery may contribute to medical errors and impact patient outcomes. To date, there are no studies investigating outcomes related to fatigue in general surgery.
Methods: All patients undergoing anterior resection between 1994 and 2005 at 2 university hospitals were identified. Cases were categorized as fatigued or nonfatigued and then compared with respect to complications and cancer recurrence.
Results: Two hundred seventy patients underwent anterior resection during the study period. Of these, 22 were performed when the surgeon was fatigued. The fatigued and nonfatigued groups had similar preoperative characteristics. The rates of intraoperative complications (fatigued 14%, rested 18%, P = .58), major postoperative complications (fatigued 9%, rested 15%, P = .68), long-term complications (fatigued 31%, rested 31%, P = .9), and local cancer recurrence rates (fatigued 0%, rested 7%, P = .2) were not significantly different between the 2 groups.
Conclusions: Surgeon fatigue did not influence outcomes after anterior resection for rectal cancer.