Resident Doctors Face Risk as Work Hours Increase Again – AMSA Responds
Kelly Thibert, D.O., M.P.H., National President
American Medical Student Association
Sterling, VA – December 20, 2016: The dangers of excessively long shifts may soon become a re-born reality if the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) decides to pass the proposed revisions to the Common Program Requirements that address the resident work environment.
Since 2011, there have been policies in place protecting against these dangers that first-year resident physicians face. These policies were enacted by the ACGME after evidence revealed that sleep deprivation due to long duty shifts increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents, needle-stick injuries, exposure to blood-borne pathogens and depression in medical residents. Despite this evidence, the 2011 change in policies and even more current research results, the ACGME is proposing to allow first-year residents (interns) to work 28 consecutive hours or more.
The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) has submitted comments to the ACGME concerning Section VI of the Common Program Requirements, The Learning and Working Environment during the recent 45-day open comment period, which closed yesterday, December 19, 2016. View AMSA’s comments here.
“The fact that the ACGME is considering rolling back their recently amended policies regarding work hour restrictions and resident safety is counterintuitive to the additional language they have added regarding resident well-being. These restrictions were put into place because of clear evidence of risk to resident physicians, because of the ACGME’s mission to ‘improve health care and population health by assessing and advancing the quality of resident physicians’ education…’ Now, more than ever, when depression and suicide rates of physicians-in-training, residents and practicing physicians are at an all-time high, we need to ensure we’re protecting resident well-being; rolling back these restrictions is not the way to do it.” said Dr. Kelly Thibert, national president of AMSA for 2016-17.
AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at http://www.amsa.org.