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Medical News & Perspectives
January 21, 2009

IOM: Shorten Residents’ Work Shifts to Reduce Fatigue, Improve Patient Safety

JAMA. 2009;301(3):259-261. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.940

Medical residents should work no more than 16 consecutive hours without sleep, according to new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The report, requested by Congress and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which also funded the effort, adds to the ongoing debate over the long hours residents routinely work as part of their apprenticeship. Based on evidence of the effects of fatigue on human performance and on patient and resident safety, the report recommends several refinements to limits on residents’ work schedules that were established by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) in 2003. It also calls for better supervision of residents by faculty and improved protocols for transfer of patients from clinicians between shifts, or patient handoffs.

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