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February 6, 2013

The European Working Time Directive: An Uncontrolled Experiment in Medical Care and Education

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine (Drs Axelrod and Jena) and Endocrine Division (Dr Axelrod), Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Health Care Policy (Dr Jena), Harvard Medical School (Mr Shah), Boston; and National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Dr Jena).

JAMA. 2013;309(5):447-448. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.148065

A large-scale, uncontrolled experiment in medical care and education is in progress in the European community with important implications for the quality of medical care and education. Working hours for physicians in training are now limited to 48 hours per week, a fact that—to our knowledge—is little known to most US physicians. In this Viewpoint, we discuss the European Working Time Directive that led to this reform, the effect of this directive on European medical care and education, and the important implications for graduate training reform in the United States.