Surgical Residents Critical of Work-Hour Restrictions

Most Swiss surgical residents say 50-hour week has negative effect on training, patient care
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- The 50-hour workweek limitation for residents that has been adopted in Switzerland may have improved residents' quality of life, but at a cost to their surgical training and patient care, according to research published in the June issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Adrian Businger, M.D. of the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues conducted a survey of 405 surgical residents and consultants to determine the effect that the 50-hour workweek limitation has had on training, patient care, and the residents' quality of life.

The researchers found that the majority of residents and consultants (62.8 and 77.2 percent, respectively) reported that the work-hour restriction has had a negative impact on surgical training; 43 and 70.1 percent, respectively, said it has had a negative impact on patient care. Most of those surveyed reported a negative impact on both operative time and overall operating room experience. On the other hand, the work-hour restriction has improved residents' quality of life, according to 58.4 percent of residents and 81.5 percent of consultants.

"Although residents' quality of life improved slightly, the work-hour limitation for surgical residencies as instituted in Switzerland appears to be a failure. To optimize the present situation, resident paperwork should be reduced or assigned to physician extenders. Furthermore, it is imperative that surgical residents read and study during their time off duty," the authors write.

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