Beth Israel faces questions on surgical resident work schedules

The group that oversees training of new doctors said this week that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is facing a critical review in which it must prove that it has reformed its ways when it comes to overworking doctors in training.

Beth Israel Deaconess had  been working young surgeons for significantly more hours than allowed by national safety limits, according to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. (It's in good company, however, with 9 percent of all teaching hospitals facing such challenges.) The facility has worked some surgical residents for seven days straight, or kept them on the job up to 90 hours per week, accreditation officials concluded early this year after a review of its practices. The Accreditation Council set rules five years ago barring residents from working more than 80 hours a week on average, or more than 24 to 30 hours in a shift. What's more, they must have 10 hours off between shifts and one day off every seven.

Today, the Accreditation Council will be coming back to review Beth Israel Deaconess's progress toward meeting these standards. In theory, the hospital could lose its accreditation as a surgery training program if the group finds that things haven't changed, though hospital leaders are optimistic. Managers have hired more staff, and are reviewing residents' hours weekly to make sure residents that might violate work hours rules get sent home.

To learn more about the work-hours issue:
- read this piece from The Boston Globe

Related Articles:
Study: Long hospital shifts boost mistakes
Studies: Resident shift limits don't lower mortality
Med school faculty fret over cutting resident hours
Cutting resident hours could cost big bucks