Research Roundup: Surgical Residents Not Happy With New Schedules

Each week, KHN reporter Alvin Tran compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.

JAMA Surgery: Surgical Residents' Perceptions of 2011 Accreditation Council For Graduate Medical Education Duty Hour Regulations – In 2011, the organization that oversees medical student training instituted a new regimen to replace the traditional 24-hour call schedule for medical residents, to improve patient safety and the residents' health. Under this new policy, residents in their first year of post-graduate training get increased supervision and are limited to 16-hour shifts.  Researchers interviewed more than 1,000 surgical residents and found nearly 66 percent of them disapproved. "Residents believe that the intended improvements in patient safety, resident quality of life, and education have not been borne out after implementation of the changes," the researchers write. "Furthermore, a concerning majority of surgical residents report noncompliance and falsification of duty hours. It may be difficult for residents, particularly in surgical fields, to learn and care for patients under the current ACGME regulations" (Drolet et al., 5/15).

JAMA Surgery: Effects Of Duty Hour Restrictions On Core Competencies, Education, Quality Of Life, And Burnout Among General Surgery Interns – Researchers aimed to measure the implications of the new work regulations by assessing the views and experiences of 213 surgical interns from 11 general surgery residency programs in July 2011 and  May 2012. They found that half of the participants believed the new regulations decreased the coordination of patient care and the time they spent in the operating room while 70 percent felt it reduced their ability to achieve continuity with patients. The majority did not believe that the regulations decreased their fatigue. "The high rate of burnout among US surgeons appear to begin during residency training, even under the … reduced work hours," they conclude (Antiel et al., 5/15).

American Journal Of Public Health: The Impact Of Cigarette Excise Tax Increases On Purchasing Behaviors Among New York City Smokers – While tax increases on cigarettes have been shown to be effective in preventing and reducing smoking, many people respond to the hikes by buying their cigarettes in other jurisdictions with lower taxes, over the Internet, on the street or from Native Americans selling untaxed products. Researchers found that "Following the 2008 tax increase [in New York City], 21% of smokers reported buying more cigarettes from another person on the street. ...Tax increases should be paired with enforcement strategies that limit the flow of untaxed, cheap cigarettes into jurisdictions with high cigarette pack prices," they conclude (Coady et al., 6/2013).

Academic Emergency Medicine: National Growth In Intensive Care Unit Admissions From Emergency Departments In The United States From 2002 To 2009 – Patient admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) have been increasing with an aging population, the authors write. The authors analyzed records from more than 4,000 patients admitted to the ICU from emergency departments from 2002 to 2009. "Over the study period, ICU admissions from EDs increased from 2.79 million in 2002/2003 to 4.14 million in 2008/2009," they write. The largest growth was among visits by patients 85 years or older. Nonwhite and Medicaid-covered patients were also major contributors to higher ICU admissions. They suggest that growth trends should be considered as decisions are made in regards to ICU capacity and add that "an increased emphasis" on the link between the emergency department and intensive care unit as well as "critical care training for emergency providers may be warranted, as many patients stay in EDs for prolonged periods of time" (Mullins, Goyal and Pines, 5/2013).

Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Management Associates: Profiles Of Medicaid Outreach And Enrollment Strategies: Helping Families Maintain Coverage In Michigan – Looking ahead to the 2014 implementation of the health law, the authors write: "This brief provides insight into lessons learned from Medicaid and CHIP outreach and enrollment strategies by profiling a successful initiative of the Michigan Primary Care Association to facilitate coverage renewals through a systematic, technology-based reminder system coupled with one-on-one assistance." The authors assert that a critical challenge will be to help people stay enrolled. "Losses in coverage at renewal interfere with individuals' access to and continuity of care and create unnecessary administrative costs associated with re-enrolling eligible individuals into coverage" (Edwards, Rodin and Artiga, 5/14).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.