Patient safety not affected by shorter residency hours

Two studies published inthe Journal of the American Medical Association find patient outcomes are not significantly different following the implementation of the 2011 Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education duty hour reform time limits.

The first study, led by researchers at Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania, analyzed 30-day mortality and 30-day readmission rates for Medicare patients before and after the duty limits were adopted.

The study examined nearly 6.4 million admissions from nearly 2.8 million patients.

In the two years prior to duty hour reforms, the 30-day mortality rate was 6.6 percent, and the 30-day readmission rate was 13.9 percent. In one year following duty hour reforms, the 30-day mortality rate was 6.4 percent, and the 30-day readmission rate was 13.2 percent, which researchers concluded were not statistically significant differences.

In the second study, researchers from the American College of Surgeons and Chicago-based Northwestern University examined general surgery patient outcomes for the two years prior and two years following duty hour reform.

Their findings mirror those of the above study in that there was not a significant change in death or serious morbidity in the post-reform years.

They also found there was no difference in resident examination performance.

"The implications of these findings should be considered when evaluating the merit of the 2011 ACGME duty hour reform and revising related policies in the future," the researchers concluded.

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