Mayo Clinic: Limits on Resident Workload Could Hurt Continuity of Care

Recent Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education limits aimed to enhance patient safety may compromise the quality of physicians' training and patient safety, according to a study by Mayo Clinic researchers published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Last year, the ACGME, which oversees residency programs, issued a requirement that all medical residents could not work longer than a 16-hour shift in the hospital. A survey about the 16-hour shift limit was sent to directors of residency programs around the country. According to survey results, nearly 500 respondents are concerned the new requirement, to be implemented by July 2011, will impinge on physician education.

Results also showed 87 percent of program directors felt the shortened shifts will interrupt the interactions between residents and hospitalized patients, and up to 78 percent of directors felt the restricted shifts are likely to result in graduates who fall short in the key competency areas defined by the ACGME, including patient care, medical knowledge, interpersonal and communications skills and professionalism.

Moreover, residency directors were skeptical about whether the new limits will reduce physician fatigue, the problem they are designed to address. Among respondents, 65 percent felt that the limits will have no effect on fatigue, and 6 percent felt the restrictions may even increase fatigue.

Read the Mayo Clinic news release about ACGME's work shift requirements for medical residents.

Read other coverage about the quality:

- Hospital-Acquired Penalties Would Overlap, AHA Says

- CDC: 58% Drop in Central-Line Infections in Hospital ICUs

- OHA: 1 in 5 Patients Readmitted Within 30 Days

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