December 15, 2006 |

Resident Doctor Fatigue – Does This Standard Prevent It???

Fatigue can be one of the causes of human error.

Any student that pulled an “all-nighter” before a test can testify to the fact that fatigue can lead to mistakes.

Also, it seems that residents – who are “in training” -need to have some sleep or, according to human factors research, their learning won’t be transferred to long-term memory.

So it seemed that medical societies were on the right track when they decided to set limits on resident’s hours of work that were judged to be excessive.

So here are the main previsions of the standard:

  • An 80-hour weekly limit, averaged over four weeks. Review committees for various specialties may set more restrictive standards. Moonlighting done in the sponsoring institution counts toward the weekly limit. In addition, program directors must ensure that external and internal moonlighting does not interfere with the resident’s achievement of the program’s educational goals and objectives.
  • Adequate rest between duty periods.
  • A 24-hour limit on continuous duty time, with an additional period up to six hours permitted for continuity of care and educational activities.
  • One day in seven free from all patient care and educational obligations, averaged over four weeks.
  • In-house call no more than once every three nights, averaged over four weeks.

For more on the standard see:

What do you think? Will the standard prevent fatigue? Does any other industry regularly work people these long hours to provide “training.”

Please comment by clicking on the comments link below.

If you are at a medical facility and you need a tool to help judge the likelihood that fatigue caused an error, attend the TapRooT® Summit and go to the presentation by Bill Sirios titled: “Analyzing Fatigue Using FACT.”

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