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Patient safety could be sacrificed by medical resident work shift

There is nothing more important than patient safety in a medical facility. When a person visits a hospital, for example, they expect to be treated with respect and care at all times.

An organization that accredits medical residency programs is pondering whether or not it is a good idea to remove a five-year-old caps on the number of hours worked by doctors in training.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is responsible for reviewing residency programs at teaching universities and hospitals.

In 2011, the group imposed stricter working hours for first year residents. This included a 16 consecutive hour maximum on shifts. Furthermore, it was required that all residents take off a minimum of eight hours between each work shift.

Issues of patient safety have moved to the forefront as of late, with Medicare reforms under the Affordable Care Act penalizing hospitals for poor car and errors that lead to readmissions.

By capping work hours, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education hopes to prevent errors as the result of long work shifts by medical residents.

When patients check into a hospital, they expect to receive a high level of care from the time they check in to the time they are discharged. Unfortunately, they have no knowledge of what is going on in regards to shift changes and resident work schedules. This often puts them in a bad position without knowing it.

It is up to organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to protect against situations in which medical residents work too many consecutive hours.

Source: Forbes, "Patient Safety Concerns Emerge On Relaxed Medical Resident Work Shifts," Bruce Japsen, March 17, 2016

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