While adverse events primarily affect the patient, surgeons involved can also experience considerable distress.
The aim of the survey was to assess the impact of complications on the day-to-day life, work and health of Australian and New Zealand obstetricians and gynaecologists and to evaluate existing support systems and coping strategies.
A 43-question survey on self-assessment, quality assurance (QA) tools, impact of complications on individuals' health and relationships, and support available was emailed to fellows, trainees, subspecialists and subspecialty trainees of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG). We collected 606 responses from a target population of 2296 (response rate 26.3%).
When complications occur, sleep was affected of 80%, family and social relationships of 55% and physical health of 48% of respondents. The major sources of support were from colleagues (83%), family (82%) and medical defence organisations (73%), with professional bodies perceived as providing least support. Nearly 80% of respondents felt the need to talk to someone they trust during times of complications. Overall, 100% of respondents used at least one QA tool (62% used two, 26% three and 9% four QA strategies). There were significant differences between respondent groups in use of the QA tools.
Surgical complications have a significant impact on the well-being of Australian and New Zealand obstetricians and gynaecologists. Existing support comes from colleagues and family, but structured, unbiased support for surgeons from a professional source is urgently warranted.