Coalition Launches Campaign to Limit Residents' Hours

Advocates say 30-hour workdays cause fatigue and medical errors that impact patient safety
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- To prevent medical errors caused by doctor fatigue, a coalition of public interest and patient safety groups is urging the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to limit the amount of time residents must work without sleep to 16 hours and to increase resident supervision.

The coalition, including Public Citizen, Mothers Against Medical Errors and other advocacy groups, announced their campaign in a Feb. 4 press conference to coincide with the launch of www.wakeupdoctor.org, a Web site where other advocates and members of the public can post stories of their own experience with physician fatigue and participate in a petition to the ACGME.

A coalition spokesperson said that currently more than 100,000 residents routinely work 30 hours or more at a stretch, and that 100-hour workweeks are not uncommon. The coalition petition urges the ACGME, which regulates medical residency training programs, to adopt the recommendations for the shortened hours and increased supervision included in a 2008 Institute of Medicine report. The coalition said they would seek congressional action if needed to implement the recommendations.

"Today we are sending a letter signed by more than 40 organizations to the ACGME urging them to adopt rules to reduce sleep deprivation among tens of thousands of residents in whose hands the safety of millions of American patients are placed," Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen, said during the press conference.

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