INTRODUCTION: Physicians and surgeons in all specialties encounter and manage complications throughout their careers. Little attention has been given to a surgeon's emotional experience and reaction to the stresses of managing complications. METHODS: The author has reviewed relevant literature and added observations from 4 decades of experience with a pediatric orthopedic faculty. The author also reviewed the types of complications and principles of successful management of surgical complications. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: A small number of published articles dealing with the issues of physician and surgeon responses to stressful occurrences were found. Proper management of complications will markedly reduce the stress upon the surgeon. Analysis of the complications with colleagues is essential to the reduction of feelings of guilt, and are useful in preventing future events. Discussions of the accompanying stress between the surgeon and colleagues, family, and occasionally counselors are helpful in achieving resolution and emotional healing. CONCLUSIONS: Greater attention to emotional stress issues affecting caregivers, and especially surgeons, is needed. This should happen at all levels of education from medical school through postgraduate training, and in the everyday practice of surgery. Research to clarify the effectiveness of various interventions is needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine