The American Council of Graduate Medical Education has imposed a rule on medical residents limiting the amount of time that they can spend at the hospital to 80 hours per week. The rule applies regardless of specialty or whether the residents are working in New York or elsewhere. While the regulation was made to address doctor fatigue, some residents oppose the restriction because it does not take into account individual training programs. Many also argue that this rule can impact patients adversely.
The council believed that the rule would lead to fewer surgical errors because residents would be more well-rested. However, the change means that more errors may develop because shifts must change among residents more frequently.
The rule may also not take into account differences among different medical specialties. Surgery tends to take longer than other types of routine medical procedures, so when hours get cut, fewer surgeries may be scheduled.
Another dilemma in restricting hours is that it interferes with a training physician’s right to work. Neurosurgery may take longer than other types of surgeries due to the nature of the techniques involved. Restricting hours may leave residents unprepared for the realities of neurosurgery practice. When faced with the restrictions, surgeons in training may be forced to decide between lying about their hours and missing crucial learning opportunities.
When a patient comes out of surgery with a worsened medical condition, the reasons may be complex. In some cases, it is due to surgical errors or negligent operating room staff. In other cases, it is simply due to natural causes related to the patient’s failing health. For individuals who may be victims of medical malpractice, it might be a good idea to consult with an attorney who can investigate what really happened in the operating room.