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Study: Shorter Residency Shifts Did Not Improve Care, Part 1

One of the notorious challenges of medical school is the demanding residency requirement. Young doctors-in-training face rigorous schedules and extremely long on-call shifts. Until 2011, hospitals could require residents to put in 30-hour shifts. In 2011, the organization responsible for medical school introduced a lower limit by capping the shift length at 16 hours.

These long hours require young physicians to try to provide safe care with very little rest-at the point in their career at which they possess the least experience. As a result, American patients face more risks of dangerous medical errors related to fatigue and exhaustion. 

Although the 16-hour limit is much lower than in recent years, the results of two recent studies show that this step has not done enough to improve patient safety. Instead, residents report the same levels of fatigue and depression. Even more concerning, the residents also admitted to making more medical errors and mistakes.

Our next post will look more at these studies and the implications of physician exhaustion for Dallas patients.

Source: ABC News, "For Resident Doctors, Shorter Shifts Mean More Mistakes," Kathleen Struck, Mar. 26, 2013

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