March 3, 2016 – Hours Regulation


Anchor lead:  Did the federal government overregulate medical resident work hours? Elizabeth Tracey reports

How many hours should a medical or surgical resident work?  A new study shows that the restrictive hours imposed by the federal government, compared to a more relaxed approach, don’t really change patient outcomes.  Robert Higgins, director of surgery at Johns Hopkins, examines the findings.

Higgins: The study that just came out was the first prospective, randomized trial that evaluated the outcomes of a very restrictive pattern of duty hours, 80 hours, versus a more flexible schedule, and it showed no difference in outcomes as it related to the patients. And so it gives us food for thought.  The regulatory bodies imposed these 80 hours as what was necessary without much evidence that it was going to make a difference, and now this challenges us to wonder whether the rules were capricious or arbitrary.   :29

Higgins says the more liberal approach may allow fewer handoffs, where physicians hand off care of patients to another physician, and that’s good for patient care.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.