Cutting resident hours could cost big bucks

As we've noted previously in FierceHealthcare, the long shifts worked by residents may not be good for patient care, as error rates shoot up when they get too tired. But according to one study, it could hit facilities in the pocketbook, and hard, if they were to work fewer hours. Why? Because someone else, probably physician assistants, nurse practitioners or hospitalists, would have to do the work. What's more, facilities might have trouble adding such workers, as each category faces labor shortages. Hospital accreditation rules already limit resident schedules to 80 hours per week, and shifts to 30 hours. Cutting resident workloads down to a less-taxing 60 hours a week would cost a typical surgical center $2.9 million over five years, according study published in the Archives of Surgery. Meanwhile, if lawmakers or agencies were to set further scheduling limits, it could significantly change the way academic medical centers work, as they rely heavily on resident labor.

To find out more about the study:
- read this United Press International piece