Does a doctor’s overwork lead to error?
I remember feeling sleepy while holding retractors during long operations during residency in Mumbai and later in the USA in the early 1990s. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in the USA recently implemented strict regulations that would prohibit residents working more than 80 hours per week and more than 24 hours at a stretch. Recently, a prestigious internal medicine residency programme at Johns Hopkins Medical School lost its accreditation for violating this rule. The proposed regulations argue that house staff fatigue is responsible for physician error, ill-health and lack of compassion for patients. Critics point to how these affect the goals of house staff training—the development of accountability and responsibility. The terms ‘house staff’ and ‘resident’ were coined based on the fact that residents are always on duty and available for care of the patients.
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