A major downside to capping resident work-hours is increasing the number of patient handoffs between doctors.
Further decreasing allowable work-hours to 56 hours per week will only exacerbate the problem.
A survey of MGH residents suggested that this practice led to significant patient harm, almost as serious as medication-related events:
More than half of the 161 medical or surgical residents who responded to the anonymous survey said they recalled at least one occasion in their last month-long rotation when a patient suffered from flawed handoffs. About one in nine said the harm that resulted was significant.