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A year ago, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) changed the rules governing the schedules of medical residents. The new work hours were intended to curb resident fatigue, which the Institute of Medicine (IOM) had previously concluded was contributing to medical errors and accidents. But the new duty hours have actually exacerbated fatigue, jeopardized resident education, and endangered patient care at our nation’s teaching hospitals.Up until the current guidelines took effect in July of 2011, medical residents could work up to 80 hours per week and 30 hours continuously. The new rules, while maintaining the 80-hour schedule, have limited the maximum shift for first-year residents to 16 hours. Senior residents may work 28 hours straight.
highlights that these mandates have failed to achieve what they were intended to. The study’s authors contacted every institution in the country that sponsors an ACGME-accredited residency program, and ultimately 6,202 residents at 123 different institutions completed a twelve-question survey. Of those surveyed, 43 percent indicated that resident work schedules had actually worsened, and 50 percent said that quality of life for senior residents had deteriorated, compared with 30 and 14 percent, respectively, who noted improvement in these areas. Forty-one percent of residents believed that the new guidelines have worsened their education, while only 16 percent believed the changes have benefited resident learning. The survey also indicated that some residents were concerned that patient care was suffering. Overall, 48 percent of residents disapproved of the changes, with only 23 percent approving.
Continue reading at National Review Online.