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New Rules In Effect Limit Resident Work Hours

June 24, 2011



The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the body that oversees residency programs, has agreed to limit the shifts of first-year residents to no more than 16 consecutive hours. However, it will continue to permit shifts of 28 consecutive hours for more senior residents, including surgical residents, because, the ACGME says, these residents are more experienced.

Dr. Christopher Landrigan
HMS associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dr. Lucian Leape published a report in Nature & Science of Sleep about the new restrictions saying that they are not enough, and more needs to be done to protect the safety of patients and residents including reducing hours for all residents, and more supervision from attending physicians. The reduction in resident work hours will cost teaching hospitals, which will need to hire more staff to do blood draws and paperwork that residents traditionally handle. The authors suggest that the initial costs of implementing the rules would be offset by the reduction of costly medical errors.


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