Interim Physicians Blog

Dr. Ken's Corner: True of False? Shorter Shifts Improve Patient Safety

Posted by Ken Teufel M.D. on Jun 22, 2015 2:29:49 PM

In 2011 it was mandated that resident physicians work shorter hours: shifts no longer than 16 hours for first-year residents and no longer than 24 hours for other residents. The logical premise was that doctor fatigue leads to more mistakes. In 2013 Dr. Steven Lockley of Harvard University was quoted in The Wall Street Journal: "When hours are reduced, medical error rates fall enormously. No other simple solution comes as close as a way of cutting errors."

Along comes a new study in 2015 that shows "shorter shifts for medical residents don't appear to be making big improvements in doctors' fatigue levels or in patient care" (HealthDay News, February 9, 2015). Researchers at the University of Toronto evaluated overnight shifts of 12, 16, and 24 hours involving 47 residents and over 800 ICU admissions at two teaching hospitals. Their findings,

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Topics: Dr. Christopher Parshuram, Dr. Ken's Corner, Dr. Ken Teufel, Dr. Mitesh Patel, Dr. Steven Lockley, HealthDay News, locums, patient safety, shorter shifts

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