A recent study suggests that your overworked surgical resident knows exactly what he or she is doing.
Are you worried that your doctor may be overworked? While it is no secret that a god night’s rest will help you feel more alert and aware the next day, a new study suggests that it may not be as important as you think.
According to a HealthDay News report, a study from scientists at the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine shows that long hours for surgical residents do not lead to any additional risk for surgical outcomes.
According to Dr. Karl Bilimoria, the study’s lead author, “It’s counterintuitive to think it’s better for doctors to work longer hours.” Dr. Bilimoria says the real risk to patients comes when surgeons pass off their patients to other doctors at inopportune times.
Scientists showed that changing shifts during a procedure could result in the loss of crucial information, rushed care, and a loss of the doctor-patient relationship on which success hinges.
The study adds to the continuing debate over whether surgical residents should be given longer or shorter shifts. Recent research suggests that shorter shifts lead to worse overall medical outcomes. Residents are currently allowed to work 80 hours per week, and are not permitted to work for more than 28 consecutive hours.
The recent study examined the shift structure of more than 4,300 residents at almost 120 different programs. Researchers compared the outcomes for patients in programs that either strictly adhered to the shift limits and those who gave their residents the flexibility to care for their patients as they saw fit.
The scientists found that outcomes for patients were similar regardless of whether the surgical residents followed the restrictions or stayed to work longer shifts. Furthermore, surgical residents who stayed longer reported that there were no negative health outcomes for themselves, and that longer shifts often gave them the time to be sure about their patient’s outcome.
The study’s findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A press release from Northwestern University describing the details of the recent study can be found here.