Physician who championed against long medical trainee hours dies at 86

Bertrand M. Bell, MD, a professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, died last Tuesday from kidney failure, leaving behind an important mark on reducing shift lengths for medical trainees, The New York Times reports.

Dr. Bell led an advisory panel that investigated hospital staffing after 18-year-old Libby Zion died at a Manhattan hospital due to what her father claimed was short-staffing and a medication error, according to the report.

The panel's findings determined there should be an 80-hour cap on trainee work weeks, which were typically 95 hours at the time. The recommendation was taken up by the New York State Health Department and later adopted by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, according to the report.

"How is it possible," Dr. Bell asked, according to The New York Times, "for anyone to be functional working a 95-hour week? A bus driver can't do it. A pilot cannot do it. So why should a neophyte doctor do it?"

Dr. Bell also contributed to improvements in training programs for primary care and emergency medicine, among other accomplishments.

Read the full obituary here.


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