A 48-hour physician workweek will kill patients

How dramatic.

But it’s also true. Stateside, we’re already dealing with the repercussions of restricting residents’ work to 80 hours per week or less.

The UK is going several steps further, but restricting all doctors to no more than 48-hours of work a week.

First off, there are no studies that suggest restricting work-hours improves patient care. Whatever patient safety gains are made are offset by the greater number of errors that arise from the more frequent patient handoffs between doctors.

Next, it’s going to cost a tremendous amount of money to hire the new staff needed to perform the work left behind as doctors are forced to go home. Already cash-strapped, I don’t see the NHS willing to make the necessary financial commitment to ensure a smooth transition.

This is a disaster the making, and those who call for further work-hour restrictions in the United States should be paying close attention to what’s happening in the UK.

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