A new study in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association finds that despite the existing rules new doctors work as hard as ever. Doctors' training, or residency includes shifts that involve working long hours although rules framed by Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) say that they must be allowed breaks.
Christopher Landrigan, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School, and colleagues said that interns reported working long hours sometimes more than the rules allowed. The study had 1,200 interns who kept records on their work hours.
"The public fully expects that every patient should have an awake, alert, and competent physician at all times," write the ACGME's David Leach, MD, and colleagues in a journal editorial. However interns worked at least 66 hours on an average down from 70 hours per week before the rules came into effect.
Another study in the same journal found that interns who worked long into the night were more likely to cut themselves or stick needles into themselves. "Likewise, high-quality patient care is impossible without high-quality learning," the editors said. "Attention to both is needed."