Study Finds Restrictions Placed on Surgical Intern Hours May Leave Them Too Inexperienced
Three years ago, in July of 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) placed restrictions on the number of shift hours that trainee surgeons (interns) could work. The reason behind the move was because of pressure received from both the government and the public over the amount of preventable medical errors that were occurring because interns were sleep deprived from the long hours they were forced to work. ACGME placed a 16 hour shift limit for first year residents. More senior residents are allowed to work up to 28 hours per shift. This replaced the prior restrictions, which had been in place since 2003, which allowed doctors in training to work up to 80 hours per week. However, although interns may be getting more sleep, there is now concern that they are not getting enough experience because of shorter amount of time they are spending treating patients. According to a new study published in JAMA Surgery, surgeon interns actually participated in surgeries 26 percent less that surgeon interns did four years ago. Researchers analyzed the cases of 52 interns who were working under the new restrictions. They also analyzed cases of 197 interns from the years 2007 through 2010, before the new restrictions were in place. The average number of operations each of the 52 interns participated in was 66. The average number of operations each of the 197 interns participated in was 89. There were also decreases in the number of cases where the interns were assisting more experienced surgeons, as well as the number of major cases where the intern was the lead surgeon. Surgeons in training are required to participate in 750 major cases by the end of their fifth residential year. In a recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American Surgical Association, a professor from the Indiana University School of Medicine expressed the concerns that many in the medical community have with the new restrictions. Dr. Samer Matter, who also researches surgical training, said that 20 percent of fellowship program directors, who administrate surgical residency programs, feel that new surgeons coming out of these programs are not ready to operate. If you have received injuries as a result of a surgical error, contact a New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what civil action you may be able to file in order to receive compensation for pain and loss.