Residency

News in brief: As on-call workload increases, so do negative effects on interns

Residency Program Insider, September 16, 2008

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A study in the September 10 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), looks at how increased on-call workloads affect interns.

According to a JAMA press release, researchers at The University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) defined workload as the number of new admissions on-call and the number of previously admitted patients staying on the service. From July 2003 through June 2005, researchers monitored the activities of 56 medical interns over 1,100 call nights to determine whether these factors had an affect on residents.

The research revealed that for every patient admitted, the residents incurred the following adverse affects:
Loss of sleep while on call
Longer shifts
Reduced involvement in learning activities

Additionally, the press release says 30% of shifts violated duty-hour limitations.

This is one of the first studies looking at the affects of workload on residents, says a UCMC press release.  Study authors say it’s crucial to examine this issue now as more restrictions on duty hours are being considered. Cutting back duty hours without considering the effects on residents’ workload can worsen conditions for residents as they would be expected to do the same amount of work in less time.



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