Residency

Duty hours don't affect patient outcomes

Residency Program Insider, November 23, 2010

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More than seven years after the ACGME implemented duty hour limits in July 2003, the medical community continues to debate whether the regulations had a negative or positive impact on patient outcomes.

One of the rationales for implementing duty hour limits in 2003 was to enhance patient care outcomes, but work hour restrictions increase the frequency of handoffs and can potentially cause discontinuity of care, according to critics.

To determine whether duty hour standards affected patient care, researchers looked at readmission rates for 8 million Medicare patients admitted to acute care hospitals between July 1, 2000 and June 30, 2005. They looked at patients with specific conditions, including acute myocardial infarction, stroke, gastrointestinal bleeding, and heart failure.

They also looked at patients with a diagnostic related group classification of general, orthopedic, or vascular surgery. Researchers found that readmission rates neither improved nor worsened in association with the ACGME duty hour reform.

Read the full study here.
 



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