Shorter Hours Leave Residents Less Prepared

With rules in place for how many hours residents can work, orthopedic residents reported being less tired, but also less prepared for their jobs, according to a survey.

With rules in place for how many hours residents can work, orthopedic residents reported being less tired, but also less prepared, according to a survey.

The 2003 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education limited the number of hours residents could work to 80 per week. The goal of the limit was to prevent errors from sleep-deprived doctors.

The study in the Annals of Surgery was a yearly survey from 2003 to 2009 administered to orthopedic residents. The study looked at several aspects of the resident's educational experience, work hours, amount of sleep, fatigue and its impact, and preparedness for practice.

While orthopedic residents didn’t report any difference in the number of hours of sleep they got (34.6 hours per week in 2033 and 33.7 hours per week from 2004 to 2009), they did report being less fatigued. Less fatigue equated to less of a negative impact on patient safety and quality of care.

However, the same residents claimed they were less prepared for their jobs. There was a decrease in the mean number of reported work hours (74.5 hours in 2003 compared to 66.2 hours in 2009).

The hour limits in place meant they were not getting enough direct clinical experience and were not spending enough time performing major procedures. Overall, the job satisfaction of these young doctors decreased.