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New Report Recommends Strategies to Reduce Medical Resident Fatigue-Related Errors and Improve Training
Date:12/2/2008

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Fatigued medical residents need protected sleep periods and increased supervision of work hour limits to improve patient safety and the training environment, according to a new Institute of Medicine report funded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The report is the result of a 15-month study by an IOM committee that reviewed the relationship between residents' work schedules, their performance and the quality of care they provide. The study confirms that scientific evidence shows acute and chronically fatigued residents are more likely to make mistakes.

The IOM committee recommends several changes to the existing 80-hour-per-week limit on work hours, including protected sleep periods for residents. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's current rules allow residents to work a maximum 30-hour shift. In this time, they may treat patients for 24 hours and engage in training or transition activities for the other six hours. The IOM recommends a change to require residents who complete a 30-hour shift to only treat patients for up to 16 hours. They must then have a five-hour protected sleep period between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., during which time other non-sleeping residents or additional staff members could take over patient care.

"The Institute of Medicine study provides the clear evidence to prove what we have long-believed is true -- fatigue increases the chance for human error," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Most importantly, this report provides solid recommendations that can improve patient safety, as well as increase the quality of the resident training experience."

Other recommendations in the report, Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision, and Safety, include:

  • Increased supervision of work ho
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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