KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Day-Long Shifts For Rookie Doctors To Be Scaled Back

Rookie doctors would get shorter shifts and more supervision if new guidelines proposed by the body that accredits medical residency programs go into effect, The Wall Street Journal reports. The change responds to concerns about mistakes by overworked residents. "Many patient advocates and physicians hailed it as a step in the right direction, but it would likely pose logistical and financial challenges for teaching hospitals." Currently, many medical residents work shifts that can stretch longer than a day with little rest, and studies show overworked residents make more errors. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education has proposed the change (Wang, 6/24).

Under the new rule, "the maximum length of their work shifts would be cut from 24 hours to 16 hours" for doctors in the first year of their residency, The Associated Press reports. Second-year residents could still work 24 hour shifts. "All residents and their supervisors also would be required to explain their roles to patients and explain that supervisors are ultimately in charge of their care" (6/24).

Also in medical-education news: "In the latest effort to break up the often cozy relationship between doctors and the medical industry, the University of Michigan Medical School has become the first to decide that it will no longer take any money from drug and device makers to pay for coursework doctors need to renew their medical licenses," The New York Times reports. Michigan draws about $1 million from such sources, but overall, the national total is about $1 billion (Singer and Wilson, 6/23).

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