How work-hour restrictions harms resident surgeon training

Controversy persists about limiting the work hours of resident physicians.

No where is it more prevalent than in surgery, where proficiency depends on the number of times a trainee physician performs a procedure. In a recent study from the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 43 percent of surgical residents want to work more than the allotted 80 hours per week, and 41 percent felt the work-hour restrictions “were a ‘considerable or moderate barrier’ to their training.”

I’ve mentioned previously that there is little definitive data that suggests that capping resident work-hours leads to an improvement in patient care, but there is growing evidence that tired doctors make more medical errors.

With talk of capping work-hours further, I think it’s inevitable that another year will eventually be added to resident training programs. As it stands, there’s a danger that the next generation of physicians will be ill-prepared to practice medicine without a net.

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