Medical Residents’ Hours will be Limited to Reduce Medical Errors

Posted on August 1, 2011

A number of studies have estimated that there are about 98,000 preventable and fatal medical errors performed by healthcare personnel every year. Whether a medication error, a failure to diagnose and treat, or a wrong diagnosis, sometimes people are killed when they put their trust in hospitals, doctors, and nurses. Beside medication errors, medical malpractice can occur at the hands of doctors-in-training, called medical residents, who typically work 24-to-30-hour shifts as part of their training. Now changes have been approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education that cap work shifts to 16-hours for first-year medical residents. By the second year, a resident can work up to 24 hours in one shift.

The reason for the long shifts was that a resident could spend a long time with one patient providing continuity of care while the resident had the maximum exposure to training from a licensed physician. But hospitals are ever mindful of medical errors made by those fatigued workers and the cost of medical malpractice lawsuits. A Mayo Clinic survey found the 16-hour limit will not improve fatigue issues.

The maximum work week was limited for medical residents to 80 hours in 2003 and these new limits may make the work week closer to 60 hours. Some believe the change may require residents to spend another year in training. Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy group, had petitioned the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to oversee the safety of workers in hospitals just as it does at any work site. That is reportedly under consideration.

The Florida medical malpractice lawyers at the Farah & Farah law firm have represented thousands of patients who have been the victim of medical errors and medical malpractice in the state. Our compassionate attorneys will meet with you at your convenience in your time of need and pain and suffering to discuss your options at 1-800-533-3555.

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