A couple of interesting studies regarding surgical errors came to my attention recently. The first found that surgeons who play lots of video games are faster and make fewer mistakes during laparoscopic surgery than surgeons who don’t play any video games. The second study found that doctors who are hungover make more mistakes in the operating room. That one seems kinda obvious. Or is it?
I suppose these studies made the news because people tend to equate doctors and medicine with ambition and seriousness, while drinking and video games is most often equated with grown men who haven’t moved out of their parents’ house.
Thirty-three surgeons (21 residents and 12 attending physicians) were asked how often they play video games before being tested in a surgical simulation course that measures time and errors over one-and-a-half days. Of the 33 surgeons, 15 reported never playing video games (too busy studying, I guess), 9 reported playing between 0-3 hours per week, and 9 reported playing 3 hours or more every week.
The docs who played video games more than 3 hours each week made 37 percent fewer errors, were 27 percent faster, and scored 42 percent overall than the surgeons who never play video games. Pretty impressive results, really. I guess blowing people up in Modern Warfare or Black Ops also helps you people back together in real life.
In the drinking study, which was conducted in Cork, Ireland, 16 college seniors were divided into two groups of 8. The first group was taken to dinner and invited to drink alcohol freely. The other group had dinner, but no drinks were served. (One might argue that just breathing the air in Cork, Ireland is enough to raise your blood alcohol level to higher levels).
During a laparoscopic surgical simulator test the day before, baseline scores were gathered. The day after the dinner, they were scored on the same test again at 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The results were….wait for it….that the students who drank the night before did worse on all three tests the next day. But, interestingly enough, only the test given at 9:00 a.m. was statistically significant. The take away is that you might want to schedule your laparoscopic surgeries after noon or so, just to be on the safe side.
I only point all of this out, because well, this is just more evidence thatcomes with automatic safeguards, especially as it relates to these studies. Please allow me to firmly insert my tongue into my check before I make my points:
1. Being Asian, I was born with a PS3 controller in my hand. I’m good at video games and apparently spend enough time playing them to make me better at surgery, too.
2. I’m allergic to alcohol. That, along with the fact that I’m too busy playing video games, assures you that I’ll never be hungover while operating on you.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim, who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a member of The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and a member of the California Society of Plastic Surgeons AND a sober video game aficionado, call our patient care coordinator Caroline at 415-354-8148.
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