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Rethinking Resident Work Hours

(Photo illustration.  Credit: Thinkstock)

(Photo illustration. Credit: Thinkstock)

(Dr. Brian McDonough) Dr. Brian McDonough
Dr. Brian McDonough has been medical editor at KYW Newsradio for more...
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By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – They are called resident work hours and unless you are a physician – or more specifically a doctor involved with teaching younger physicians – it probably means nothing to you.

Simply put, resident work hours are time limits placed on doctors in training to limit the amount of time they can work. The genesis of this was an attempt to reduce fatigue and potential medical mistakes from fatigue.

I was clearly in favor but now we need to revisit and adjust because we are finding that, in addition to raising a generation of doctors who punch the clock, we are finding that the transfer of important medical information – called ‘sign out’ or ‘handoff’ – needs to be improved because information is not always clearly communicated.