Restricting resident work hours leads to a shortage of surgeons

Surgical residents in the United States are currently restricted to working less than 80 hours per week.

If you think that’s extreme, consider what’s happening the UK, where surgeons are capped at 58 hours per week (via Dr. Wes). Furthermore, that cap is set to go down to 48 hours.

Apparently, these caps are rarely enforced, as “only 25% of surgeons think their human resource departments accurately reflect their actual working hours,” and, “85% come in to do surgery on their days off.”

The simple fact is that there are not enough surgeons to cover the needed procedures as doctors are forced to go home, or take breaks. Also, physicians-in-training worry about the lack of experience needed to become proficient surgeons.

We should keep a close eye on the consequences that the UK will suffer as we debate whether further cut back resident work hours Stateside.

Are the supposed gains in patient safety compromised by producing a generation of lesser-trained surgeons, conditioned to punch out at the clock?

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