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Restrictions on the number of hours that resident physicians can work continue to ignite tremendous controversy among stakeholders. The debate predominantly concerns whether restrictions enhance or endanger patient safety and resident education. The purported benefits of duty hour limits are fairly evident: well-rested residents will be less prone to error and burnout, and they will have more time to study their field. While this may sound logical, it may actually be that duty hour restrictions disrupt continuity of care because the physician who knows the patient best may not follow the patient through critical phases of their hospitalization, stabilization, or surgery. The resulting handoffs may compromise patient safety and reduce continuous contact time and hands-on experiences for trainees.
Bilimoria KY, Hoyt DB, Lewis F. Making the Case for Investigating Flexibility in Duty Hour Limits for Surgical Residents. JAMA Surg. 2015;150(6):503-504. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.0239