Reform to Reduce Resident Fatigue Does Not Improve Post-Surgical Outcomes, Study Finds

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons evaluated whether the reducing resident duty hours improved surgical outcomes of patients.

In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) implemented a reform to restrict the number of duty hours for residents, the hope being to reduce fatigue-related errors that could harm patients. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons evaluated whether the ACGME reform improved surgical outcomes of patients from 5 surgical specialties (neurosurgery, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopaedic surgery, urology, and vascular surgery).

The study authors obtained surgical data from teaching and non-teaching surgical hospitals, 1 year before and 2 years after the reform was implemented, and the clinical outcome assessed was death or serious morbidity wthin 30 days of the surgery. However, at least for the 2 year period post-reform, the authors failed to find any significant correlation between reduced hours of resident duty and the 2 clinical outcomes being assessed.