Shorter work hours for medical interns risk patient safety

The reduction of work hours for medical interns can actually increase patient risks, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. Stricter national regulations that aimed to reduce the continuous-duty hours of first-year resident physicians from 30 to 16 took effect in 2011, subscribing to the theory that limiting work hours would give trainees more sleep and they'd commit fewer medical errors.

However, the new research suggests that idea could have "very serious" consequences for patient care and safety. "Despite the best of intentions, the reduced work hours are handcuffing training programs, and benefits to patient safety and trainee well-being have not been systematically demonstrated," study leader Sanjay V. Desai, director of the internal medicine residency program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, said yesterday in a statement. Meanwhile, a February New England Journal of Medicine article showed residency program directors opposed a shorter work day for first-year residents. Announcement