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Commentary
January 2011January 17, 2011

Limitations in Resident Work HoursAre We Preaching to the Choir? That Is the Question!

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Surgery, Kaiser Permanente, Fontana, Fontana, California.

Arch Surg. 2011;146(1):11. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2010.293

Limitations in resident working hours were sparked by the death of 18-year-old Libby Zion in a New York hospital in 1984. Libby's father, Sydney, left no stone unturned to ensure the implementation of restriction on residents' working hours after his daughter died under the care of inexperienced and overworked young physicians.1 In July 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education mandated such restriction, which became the subject of heated debate between those who entrenched themselves on either side of the fence. The epidemic extended well beyond the US borders where restrictions are even harder than ours. Among the primary goals of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education were enhancement of patient safety, providing a friendly learning environment, and a decent quality of life for residents. However, there was a concern that such restrictions may backfire when it comes to the quality of education and the very safety of the patients it was implemented for. The gap between the pros and cons is even wider when surgical education is considered because residents not only need to acquire medical knowledge but also develop the manual dexterity and—this may be as important—the strength and endurance to perform procedures and provide total care.2

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