The Accreditation Council for Graduate and Medical Education had attempted to improve the work efficiency of medical interns by reducing their work shift hours to 16 hours. This initiative seems to be a wrong move as two trials have reported negative effects of decreased shift hours.
The studies published in the JAMA Internal Medicine clearly shows that changed work schedule did not significantly improve the sleep hours. Moreover, serious medical errors made by the resident interns increased from 19.9% to 23.3% and many trainees were reported to be depressed.
The authors attribute the findings to the fact that the trainees are still required to do the same amount of work but in less time.
Dr. Sanjay Desai, director of the Osler Medicine Training Program at Johns Hopkins University and lead study author of one study remarks that there has been a dramatic increase in 'handoffs' of patients from one staff to another. Handoffs are known to increase medical mistakes.
This work hour regulation also reduced the interactions between trainee and the teaching staff, which in turn reduced the knowledge gained by the trainees.
Though the studies have highlighted serious issues, there are certain limitations as the studies involved only small number of participants. According to Dr.Desai further research and data are required to find solutions to the issue.