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Further restrictions on resident duty hours to reduce fatigue and ensure patient safety

Author: Tamer M. Fouad, M.D. | Submitted: January 04, 2010. Updated: January 04, 2010.

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At the request of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as part of an investigation into preventable medical errors, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has issued a report recommending further restrictions regarding duty hours for resident physicians and other actions to reduce resident fatigue and ensure patient safety, according to an article published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology (JACR).1

The new IOM recommendations focus more on reducing fatigue related errors by assuring that residents get regular opportunities for sleep each day than by reducing the maximum weekly work hours. The current ACGME duty hour requirements state that residents must not work more than 80 hours per week averaged over 4 weeks, and must be provided 1 day in 7 free from all educational and clinical responsibilities, averaged over 4 weeks.

Martha B. Mainiero, MD, lead author of the article says, “The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is currently reviewing the IOM’s recommendations but will have little choice but to take further action in this area”.

Recently, an article published on Doctors Lounge, authored by Dr. Lowe2 discussed the implications of further restrictions:

Tamer M. Fouad, M.D.. Further restrictions on resident duty hours to reduce fatigue and ensure patient safety. Doctors Lounge Website. Available at: Accessed May 30 2016.


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