Restricting Resident Work Hours May Not Reduce Errors

Research suggests that limiting the length of shifts may not cut medical error rates, but restricting hours for doctors in training may offer other reasons for concern.

Los Angeles Times: Limiting Hospital Intern Shifts May Not Cut Errors, Studies Find
It's been 15 years now, but Dr. Sanjay Desai remembers the brutal hours he worked as a young medical intern and how he struggled with fatigue while treating patients. "There were days we were easily working 36 hours straight and you couldn't remember how you got home — if you got home," Desai said. "It wasn't safe." Times have changed. Regulations now demand that teaching hospitals limit first-year trainees to 16-hour shifts. By reducing work hours, medical authorities reasoned, interns would get more sleep, suffer less fatigue and commit fewer mistakes (Morin, 3/25).

Reuters: Resident Work House Limits Introduce New Concerns
Restrictions on work hours for doctors-in-training may end up inadvertently limiting their educational opportunities and increasing errors, new research suggests. Long shifts and lack of sleep among medical residents have long been a concern, leading the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to introduce restrictions on work hours in 2003 and again in 2011 (Pittman, 3/25).

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