Our aim was to assess the impact of jinxing on “call karma” in neurosurgery.
We conducted a prospective observational study on 15 residents on call for the neurosurgery service, recording the total number of admissions, consults, deaths encountered, surgeries performed, hours of sleep and subjective call rating on a numeric rating scale (NRS) of 0-10 in terms of general awfulness.
Some 204 on-call nightshifts were analyzed, of which 61 (29.9%) were jinxed and 143 (70.1%) were nonjinxed. Jinxes seemed to occur in clusters. The baseline parameters (experience, type of call coverage and superstition level) of the study groups were well balanced. A trend toward more surgeries was observed during jinxed nights, where residents slept significantly less (mean 147.8±96.2 vs. 180.9±106.1 min, p=0.037) and rated their on-call experience worse on the NRS (4.4±2.2 vs. 3.5±2.0, p=0.011), while there was no significant difference in number of admissions, consults or deaths.
The act of jinxing ought to be avoided in the neurosurgical setting, as it might be potentially harmful to resident call karma, irrespective of level of experience, resources and personal beliefs.