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Experts seek reforms to prevent errors from medical resident fatigue, lack of supervision
Date:6/23/2011

(Boston MA) A group of 26 of the nation's leaders in medicine, health care, patient safety, and research today called for sweeping changes in the design, supervision and financing of U.S. hospital residency care programs to protect patients from serious, preventable medical errors, and end dangerously long work hours for physicians in training.

In a set of recommendations published in the June 24 issue of the online journal Nature & Science of Sleep, the authors say the rules for residency training set to take effect on July 1 "stop considerably short" of best practices to ensure patient safety, and they call on hospital administrators and residency program directors to go much further to keep health care safe.

The report examining residency work hours, supervision, and safety is the product of a conference held last June at Harvard Medical School. The conference was convened to develop a road map for implementation of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for residency reform published in 2009. The IOM report called for major changes in residency training programs, including eliminating shifts exceeding 16 hours without sleep for all resident physicians, but those recommendations have yet to be implemented.

"The current system amounts to an abuse of patient trust," says Lucian Leape, M.D., adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health and a co-author of the report. "Few people enter a hospital expecting that their care and safety are in the hands of someone who has been working a double-shift or more with no sleep. If they knew, and had a choice, the overwhelming majority would demand another doctor or leave."

Research shows that resident fatigue is a major contributor to the millions of medical errors that occur each year in the nation's hospitals. In April, a study in the journal Health Affairs showed that despite more than a decade of national focus on patient safety, medic
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Contact: Sara Knoll
sknoll@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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