Proposed Duty Hour Limits for Residents Met with Scrutiny

Joe Cantlupe, March 17, 2011

Resident Physician: Take a nap. Limit your hours.

Sounds good, no? The decades long-debate over how long resident physicians should keep working per shift, and how much rest they need, continues, like a long-running dream. These are major questions being considered by medical directors of residency programs as new regulations come online in July.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is preparing to launch regulations that say first-year physician residents must work no longer than 16 consecutive hours. The plan includes provisions to replace standards that now allow interns to work 24 consecutive hours.

The ACGME, which is promulgating the regulations, is a non-profit organization that oversees training programs for resident physicians and is responsible for regulating and enforcing resident physician work hours, and accreditation of post-MD medical training programs.

While the ACGME insists it has made inroads into the fatigue issue and related patient safety concerns, physician residency program directors suggest in a new survey they aren't exactly pleased with the plan. I don't think it will do much to allay their concerns about physician exhaustion and patient care.

Residency program directors' reactions to the ACGME duty hour recommendations "demonstrate a marked degree of concern" about physician education, according to the study by Darcy A. Reed, MD, MPH, Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine for the Mayo Clinic, and her co-authors, reported in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The Mayo Clinic was not associated with the survey, which was conducted after the ACGME published its recommendations.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter


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