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June 9, 2010

Trends in US Physician Work Hours

JAMA. 2010;303(22):2250-2251. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.731

To the Editor: Dr Staiger and colleagues1 analyzed trends in physician work hours, identifying a decrease in hours worked per week during the last decade. I am concerned about one of the assumptions, and I wonder what effect it may have had on the results and interpretation.

In the Methods section, the authors stated that they “identified physicians as residents if they were younger than 35 years and working in a hospital.” As a full-time hospitalist for the past 9 years since I finished residency, I passed the 35-year mark only last year. The field of hospital medicine has experienced tremendous growth over the past 10 years,2 with many physicians younger than 35 years. In a 2007 survey by the Society of Hospital Medicine,3 the median age of nonleader hospitalist physicians was 37 years, substantially younger than most other specialties.