Pitfalls Of The ACGME Work Hours Restrictions

Fri, 02/17/2012 - 6:07am

In a blog post, noted patient safety expert and hospitalist movement founder Bob Wachter discussed some new realities in resident education as a result of the recent [July, 2011] ratcheting down of resident work hours by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education [ACGME]. While applauding the more humane conditions under which residents now labor, he noticed disturbing changes in the way residents are being trained. The issues he raised have been well-known to surgical educators since the institution of the 80-hour work week in 2003.

He unknowingly agreed with something I wrote recently about today’s residents lacking opportunities to function independently, which leads them to worry about their competence after graduation. Wachter wrote: “Learning from one’s mistakes is fundamentally unethical when you have a human life in your hands. But an environment in which the housestaff are trained to read the attending’s body language before making a tough call can’t be right either, particularly when our third-year residents morph from resident to attending on June 30th each year.”

Continuity of care is another issue. Wachter: 

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