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September 5, 2007

Evaluating Resident Duty Hour Reforms: More Work to Do

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Medicine (Drs Meltzer and Arora) and Economics (Dr Meltzer), and Graduate School of Public Policy Studies (Dr Meltzer), University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

JAMA. 2007;298(9):1055-1057. doi:10.1001/jama.298.9.1055

The long work hours of medical residents have received increasing attention in recent years due to concerns about patient safety and the health and education of residents themselves. Although patient safety has been heavily emphasized in the media coverage of duty hour reforms, the evidence that long resident duty hours adversely affect patient outcomes is relatively poor.1 Indeed, when the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) decided to implement duty hour reforms, some expressed concern that patient care could suffer, emphasizing increased discontinuities of care, or the costs of added staffing needed to provide coverage following duty hour restrictions.2,3 Such concerns make empirical analyses of the consequences of duty hour restrictions especially important.