Residency

Can a 48-hour work week enhance patient safety?

Residency Program Insider, February 3, 2009

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Decreasing residents’ work hours to 48 hours per week does not compromise patient safety, according to a small study out of England.

Researchers studied nine residents working 48 hours per week and 10 residents working the traditional 56 hours per week for 12 weeks in 2007. Residents had to keep sleep journals detailing when they started and finished work and their sleep patterns. Researchers retrospectively reviewed case notes to detect medical errors and adverse events.

The 48-hour group made 33% fewer errors than the 56-hour group, according to the study, in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, published by Oxford University Press. However, residents working 48 hours per week reported having less time for educational activities.



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