Study: Limiting intern hours improves patient care

Evidence is piling up, in study after study, that it just makes sense to limit work shifts for residents and interns. In today's example, which comes from the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Yale-New Haven Hospital collected data on treatment and outcomes before and after work limits were imposed. Researchers looked at patient length of stay, 30-day readmission rates and medical errors for both teaching services, where work-hour limits were imposed, and compared them with nonteaching services where conditions remained the same. Within the teaching services, transfers to the ICU, adjusted death rates and medication errors fell, while discharges to home or rehab rose. The authors note that the study was limited to one hospital and not randomized, which could affect the outcome. Still, it is a result hospital administrators and physician leaders should take seriously.

To learn more about the study:
- read this report in The New York Times (reg. req.)
- review the Annals study