Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shorter Work Hours for Rookie Doctors Approved

Once doctors are dressed up in medical scrubs and lab coats, it means having to rip themselves again for the rest of the day. Those uniforms are usually soiled when the clock strikes the last minute of the shift. They won’t have much time for snacks and naps, let alone find new Cherokee uniforms or even clearance scrubs so they’d have extra medical scrubs and lab coats whenever work gets tough on their uniforms. But the real problem goes beyond having hardly any time for rest and some other things that employees necessitate. It goes all the way down to patient safety and health care workers’ health. And there goes the rules for work hours that rookie doctors should have.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s board or directors approved on Tuesday, 27th of September 2010, new rules devised for 110,000 new doctors currently being trained in the U.S. hospitals. First year residents will be given 16 hours of work and strategic napping. Those in their second year of residency and beyond will be given 24 hours at most. The new rules are believed to improve patient safety by reducing medical errors committed by the juniors due to exhaustion from extremely long hours of work. This is also aimed to ensure employees’ health and safety rights are protected.

Other changes in the new rules will also include the following:

Hierarchy spelled to patients. New medical residents must tell patients that they are new and are still being supervised by more experienced physicians. Somehow, this would serve as warning signal for patients, suggesting they must be more vigilant about their health condition and about how the rookie is working with treatment procedures they are receiving.

Strengthen supervisory requirements. The rules speak of specific type of close supervision the first-year residents should receive from their superiors. Subsequently, tasks to be given must accord one’s demonstrated skills. Superiors must carefully assess the rookie’s skills before he or she is given additional new tasks.

Second-year residents and beyond should be on-call only once in every 3 nights on-call. This rule can be averaged over four weeks or one month, which means can be on call every other night. This makes for a high probability of disrupted sleep that may develop into chronic sleep deprivation.

The newly approved rules provide shorter work shifts and stricter supervision for rookies, but the American Medical Student Association seeks for more, wanting stronger limits not just for first-year residents but for others too.

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