A Medical Myth Busted

A study in the BMJ shows that capping interns hours at 80 per week does not adversely effect quality of care later in their careers.

Seeing as how working interns 100+ hours a week is killing patients today, and does not produce better outcomes tomorrow, it’s a good thing that accreditation authority has banned this:

When new rules by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education capped medical residents’ training hours at 80 hours per week in 2003, critics worried that the change would leave physicians-in-training unprepared for the challenges of independent practice.

Now, new research published July 11 in the journal BMJ and led by scientists in the Department of Health Care Policy in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School (HMS) says that their warnings appear largely unjustified. The team’s analysis found no evidence that reduced training hours had any impact on the quality of care delivered by new physicians.

The push to scale back residents’ hours and change other aspects of training was sparked by a series of high-profile patient injuries and deaths believed to stem from clinical errors caused by fatigue.

The researchers found no significant differences in 30-day mortality, 30-day readmissions, or inpatient spending between physicians who completed their residencies before and after the hour reforms.


The study analyzed 485,685 hospitalizations of Medicare patients before and after the reform.

The training-hour reforms were not associated with statistically significant differences in patient outcomes after the physicians left training.

I always figured that the brutal hours of medical residency were primarily about ritual scarring as a coming of age ritual, and it appears that I was right.

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