Residency

News and briefs: Physicians call for more research on resident fatigue and medical errors

Residency Program Insider, November 27, 2012

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Residency Program Insider!

Reducing residents’ duty hours has been the focus of efforts to improve patient safety, but little research has been conducted isolating resident fatigue as the cause of medical errors, two physicians argue in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article.


Since Libby Zion’s death due to a lethal drug interaction in 1984 was attributed to residents’ exhaustion, efforts to improve patient safety have centered on mitigating resident fatigue, Lisa Rosenbaum, MD, and Daniela Lamas, MD, write in the November 22 article entitled “Resident Duty Hours – Toward an Empirical Narrative.”


However, only one randomized trial studying the effect of fatigue on medical error has been conducted, Rosenbaum and Lamas write. They propose that the ACGME allow research exemptions for residency programs to evaluate the effects of duty hours and other factors, such as resident supervision, simulation-based learning, and patient care hand-offs, on patient safety.


“Each assumption—that sleep deprivation makes for bad doctors, that ours will become a generation of shift workers, that one standard of training suits all trainees—is distinct in substance. But they all similarly lack substantiation,” the authors write. “To continue implementing changes without rigorous data is simply not safe.”
 



Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Residency Program Insider!

Most Popular