About 44% of doctors-in-training have experienced periods of sleep deprivation once a week or more during recent hospital shifts, and half of those said fatigue "may have had a negative effect" on quality of care, according to a survey by the American Medical Association. Meanwhile, about 39% of medical students said they felt sleep-deprived during their most recent rotation.
The AMA conducted the survey of 1,010 resident physicians and 1,126 medical students to determine the effect of new rules restricting work hours. The rules, in effect since July 2003, limit residents to no more than 80 hours a week in most cases and restrict on-site duty to a maximum of 24 straight hours.
Despite the new limits, 11% of residents said they worked more than 80 hours a week during their most recent rotation. Half of residents and three-fourths of medical students said they would be "uncomfortable" reporting violations of the work-hour rules.
J. James Rohack, chairman of the AMA board of trustees, said the results raise serious concerns. The medical establishment must "curb excessive duty hours, while at the same time ensuring the highest quality of patient care," Rohack said in a news release.