Hospitals make adjustments to compensate for cap on resident hours

In 2003, The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) capped hospital residents’ work hours to average no more than 80 hours of work per week and required 10 hours off between shifts. This is in sharp contrast to previous generations, who trained in an era of 36-hour shifts and 120-hour workweeks. In late April, ACGME will unveil updated limits, which may restrict residents’ workweek to 60 hours.

The Boston Globe reports that the ACGME adopted the rules six years ago to protect patients from fatigue-related medical errors and residents from overwork that harms their education. Hospitals are making adjustments for patient care by prohibiting 48-hour weekend shifts for residents and hiring nurse practitioners to ease workloads.

(Sources: Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisoryboard.com, March 19, 2010, Boston Globe, http://boston.com, March 14, 2010)