Medical Residents Overworked Despite New Work Limits

From Scientific American:

Resident Young doctors in their first year out of medical school regularly toil beyond highly publicized new limits on their working hours, according to newly published results from a Web-based survey. The work limits, which went into effect three years ago, were meant to address the concern that hospitals overburdened these physicians in training, or residency, thereby putting patients at risk of serious medical errors. Another survey finds that the extended hours made first-year residents more likely to jab or cut themselves with a needle or scalpel.

Working 80 to 100 hours a week or even more was long considered normal for residents, on the grounds that such training taught them to operate under stress and provide complete patient care. Of course, grueling hours also double a resident’s chance of getting into a car crash and make them one third more likely to commit a serious error, studies had found. In June 2003, prompted by proposed legislation to restrict residents’ hours, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education began limiting residents to 30 consecutive hours and 80 hours a week, averaged over four weeks.

More here.