Residency

Limiting duty hours does not affect residents’ average sleep time

Residency Program Insider, May 4, 2010

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The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommended work hour limits for residents did not result in more sleep for residents, a new study says.

The general pediatrics program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center implemented the IOM’s recommended work hours (maximum shift of 12 hours, at least 24 hours off every seven days, and no more than three consecutive night shifts) over a one-month period with one group of first-year residents while another group worked a 30-hour call schedule every fourth night. All kept sleep logs, according to a press release. 

The first study of these 2008 guidelines shows that average sleep time is unaffected and that work-life balance actually worsens. In the pre-IOM group, 67% of the interns indicated their work-life balance as good, very good, or excellent, compared to 20% in the IOM group. Also, 40% of those in the pre-IOM group rated their daily workload intensity as very low, low or neutral, compared to 0% of the IOM group.

"Proposed IOM recommendations had no significant effect on average sleep time during any 24 hour period," says Katherine Auger, MD, a physician at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s main author.
"Given the contradiction in work-life balance, further work is needed to determine whether and how much increased staffing will prevent detrimental workload intensity from undermining potential benefits to well-being and less fatigue," says Dr. Auger.

For complete survey results, see the press release.
 



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