Restricting residents' workdays to 14 hours did not cut patients' hospital stay, increase mortality or affect residents' education, according to a small-scale study by Mayo Clinic researchers. The study, published in the Dec. 6 edition of Chest, compared results of two hospital staffing strategies and found no statistical difference in outcomes or education among the 626 patients and 34 internal medicine residents who participated. Data was collected from five weeks of 14-hour workdays and four months of "long-call scheduling," which includes one 24-hour block of time off per week and one 30-hour, in-house call shift every four days. During the five-week period, residents worked an average of 61 hours per week compared with 73 hours per week during the long-call period. Previous studies have found shorter workdays reduce medical errors, although they may also contribute to adverse events as patients are transferred among doctors more frequently, the authors said. "The potential harms and benefits that may arise from long duty hours with continuous care vs. shorter shift models with less continuous care will need to be the focus of further studies," they wrote. -- by Melanie Evans
Study looks at effect of shorter workdays for residents
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.