Limiting 1st-year residents' work hours improves patient safety, study finds

Resident physician-reported medical errors and adverse events dropped by more than a third after physician work hours were limited to no more than 16 in a row, according to a study recently published in BMJ Quality & Safety.

In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education first implemented the policy of limiting the work hours, resulting in a mixed response. The policy was overturned in 2017, allowing residents to be scheduled for up to 24 hours of continuous work. 

Boston-based Brigham and Womens' Hospital researchers surveyed 21,000 residents before and after the limit was enacted. 

Surveyors saw a 32 percent reduction in reports of significant medical errors, a 34 percent reduction in reported preventable adverse events and a 63 percent reduction in reported medical errors resulting in patient death.


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