Thursday, July 12, 2007

Work-Hour Caps for Medical Residents May Have Saved High-Risk Patients, Study Finds

Fewer high-risk patients have been dying in teaching hospitals since accreditors cracked down on medical residents' marathon working hours, but surgery patients seem to be faring about the same as before, according to a report by researchers at Stanford University's School of Medicine.

"It's difficult to say, based on our findings, that the regulations are good for everyone, but they do appear to have a modest impact on some," said Kanaka D. Shetty, a research fellow and lead author of the report.

In 2003 the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education put into effect regulations that limited the working hours for all residency programs in the United States. Work weeks were capped at 80 hours, with continuous duty generally limited to no more than 24 hours. ...

The effect of work-hour restrictions has been the subject of numerous conflicting studies and vigorous debate in recent years, but Stanford researchers said theirs was the largest analysis yet. The article on the study, "Changes in Hospital Mortality Associated With Residency Work-Hour Regulations," will appear alongside another from Yale University researchers, who found that the work-hour limits had resulted in better outcomes on three of seven measures for internal-medicine patients.

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