KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Study: Allowing Surgeons-In-Training To Work Longer Hours Doesn’t Affect Patient Safety

The study comes as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is reassessing strict rules that were put in place to combat any issues brought on by fatigue. Some resident directors are pushing back against the restrictions.

Reuters: Long Shifts For Young Surgeons Don't Threaten Patient Safety
Controversial rules that limit the hours young surgeons can work while in training aren't needed to protect patient safety, a nationwide experiment finds. Allowing surgical residents to work long hours at hospitals doesn't increase the risk that patients will die or suffer serious complications, researchers say. The residents didn't mind the longer shifts either. (Seaman and Emery, 2/2)

Kaiser Health News: Study Finds No Harm In Allowing Surgeons-In-Training To Work Longer Shifts
The New England Journal of Medicine study comes as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is reassessing requirements that prevent residents from working extremely long stretches or back-to-back shifts. Those rules were enacted in 2003 and strengthened in 2011 amid concerns that sleep-deprived residents were more likely to make serious errors. Since then there has been push back from residency program directors concerned that the rules created new dangers for patients by abruptly forcing interns to leave in the middle of treating a patient or surgery. They also complain the rules interfere with resident education because it is harder for a trainee to follow their patients. (Rau, 2/2)

The Washington Post: Back To Extremely Long Shifts For New Surgeons? Study Finds Few Negatives.
Patients’ rates of death, serious illness, infection, pneumonia and most other common post-operative complications were no worse in hospitals that permitted the novice doctors to work longer stints for the purposes of the nationwide study than in hospitals that limited work hours. The "residents," as they are known, said they valued the chance to follow patients for more than 28 hours because of what they learned and did not think that such extended shifts jeopardized their own health. (Bernstein and Dennis, 2/2)

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