CHICAGO (Sept. 17, 2007) Contrary to concerns that restricting work hours for surgical residents negatively affects the quality of patient care or the residents education, a study in the September issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found that limiting work hours does not compromise education or the quality of care. In addition, the study found that the new model improved overall teaching effectiveness and increased the amount of operating room experience that residents receive.
However, researchers concluded that duty-hour restrictions could amplify job dissatisfaction and work hours among faculty and necessitate an increase in physician assistant and nurse staffing.
Four years ago, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) mandated the Common Duty Hours Standard, which required a dramatic redesign of the country's resident training programs. Among the key requirements were to limit resident work hours to no more than 80 hours per week averaged over a four-week period, restrict shifts to 30 hours, and permit at least a 10-hour rest period in between shifts. As a result of the mandate, many surgical educators were prompted to rethink their programs' organizational structures to adhere to the new requirements.
"These findings cannot be ignored. In this environment, limits on duty hours require us to reorganize our residency programs to promote high-quality education, safe patient care, and resident well-being and to carefully monitor the results of this reorganization to be sure that all of these requirements are being satisfied," Joseph R. Schneider, MD, FACS and lead author of the study, said.
The study, Implementation and Evaluation of a New Surgical Residency Model, which was conducted by the department of surgery at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, involved the four core hospitals that make up the school's McGaw Medical Center. This new model included
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