There was a headline on Yahoo’s home page today about the new work hours rules for medical residents. I’m not sure why it was today, since we’ve known about them for a year now and they don’t go into effect until July 1, but I think they’re trying to let the lay public know what’s going on.
That makes sense, since the whole impetus behind the rules was pressure from the general public. Residents have been lobbying for better hours for years, and decreased competition in some specialties has led to more humane conditions, but it took the threat of federal regulation to make them get serious about it.
That being the case, I’ve often wondered about the general public reaction to these rules. (I’m not around many people who exist entirely outside the medical world anymore.) Does it still seem like a lot of hours? Does it make you feel more comfortable knowing that they’re in effect? Does it makes you feel less comfortable knowing that a lot of programs will have to struggle to meet these requirements?
Here are the new rules, in a nutshell:
–Residents are limited to working 80 hours a week, total. In addition, they must have one full day off in seven, averaged over four weeks.
–“On-call” shifts may not be more than 24 hours long, and may not be more frequent than one night in three. (Note: unlike a lot of “real-world” practitioners, a resident who is on call stays in the building, and is often hopping all night.) An additional six hours are allowed for teaching, follow-up, transfer of care, clinic, etc.–basically, everything but admitting new patients. This puts the upper limit for a shift at 30 hours.
–After any given shift, the resident must have ten hours off before the next one. This effectively limits non-call days to 14 hours.
I’m not sure if anyone cares, but since this is a measure aimed at the general public, I was curious to hear what people had to say, and to answer anyone’s questions. (Any more general “Ask the Intern” questions are welcome, as well.)