Survey: Public wants medical residents to have a good night’s sleep

In the heat of this election season, there’s not much many Americans can agree on. However, one area of clear consensus among the American public is this: Nearly 90 percent oppose scuttling the 16-hour shift limit for first-year medical residents.

And that’s the case across the political spectrum: Eighty-four percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans are against a proposal to do away with the restrictions set out by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in 2011. That’s according to a recent survey commissioned by Public Citizen, a District of Columbia-based consumer rights advocacy group and think tank.

"Our basic take-home message today is that now is not the time for the ACGME to backtrack and allow resident physicians to work longer hours," said Michael Carome, M.D., director of the health research group at Public Citizen, at a press briefing on Tuesday when the poll results were released, according to MedPage Today.

About 500 people responded to the 10-minute survey, which was conducted by Lake Research Partners, an independent polling firm. The survey was conducted in the midst of increased pressure by physician organizations that advocate for allowing medical residents to work 28 hours or more without sleep, reports MedPage Today.

Two additional findings from the survey include:

  • A full 80 percent of respondents want to see the shift limit decreased from 28 hours to a maximum of 16 hours for residents in their second and subsequent years of training. 
  • A resounding 77 percent of respondents said they would want to know if the resident caring for them in the hospital was working a 16-hour shift without sleep.

While restrictions on the hours medical residents can work are intended to reduce medical errors, the work-hour limits don’t help increase patient safety, as previously reported by FiercePracticeManagement.