Punching out: Residency group wants feds to keep away from physicians’ time cards

By: November 12th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

The organization that evaluates and accredits U.S. medical residency programs wants OSHA to keep its regulatory mitts off the issue of work hours for residents.

In response to a September 2 OSHA petition from by Public Citizen and other advocacy groups, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has issued a 22-page letter to OSHA outlining why the federal agency should not regulate resident work hours.

The ACGME contends that carving duty hours out of the ACGME’s oversight ignores the link between resident work hours and patient care, reports HCPro’s Residency Manager, an online resource for residency program administrators and graduate medical education professionals.

Read more  at “ACGME responds to petition calling for OSHA to regulate duty hours,” and look for more in-depth coverage in Residency Program Alert.


I know that the government already regulates the work hours of some workers. Pilots, Truck Drivers and Railroad Engineers (and others?) have their hours of work regulated by DOT. This is for the saftey of the public.

In the OSHA Act #6a, it states that OSHA regulations have to improve the safety and health of the employees the rule is addressing. While I can see that there are patient safety issues, and a potential for increase in things like blood exposures in tired employees, I am unsure the safety part of this raises to a level that OSHA should be regulating it. A bit of a slippery slope. With what employee group do you stop at?

Recently the Journal of the American College of Surgeons published a study done by Johns Hopkins & Mayo of over 7000 surgeons. Of those working 80+ hrs/wk it stated that 50% were suffering from burnout, 39% had + symptoms of depression & 11% reported having made a serious medical error in the past 3 months. Despite this, the ACS opposes limiting hours worked by surgeons- same here by the ACGME on resident work hours. When will physicians understand that patient safety is not possible with long, exhausting work hours? It is great to see public advocate groups standing up to these groups in the interest of patient safety. Let me ask the ACS & ACGME, how would you feel about the person you care most about in your life suffering from the significant error? Your statements that the level of exhaustion can’t be linked to the sleep deprivation is BS. This is clearly shown in many other professions and you are no different. While I do not like the thought of OSHA intervening, the groups do not self regulate and someone clearly needs to do so!

My husband is a resident, and luckily by chance we ended up at a residency that follows the 80 hour work week guidelines. However, I have many friends in other specialties whose residencies routinely ignore hours worked or ask residents to lie on their time cards.

I really wish this would stop. Those kind of schedules is truly a form of abuse. Some residencies say they pride themselves in working residents so much that they break up families. It’s ridiculous. One of my good friends and her family has gone up to five days without seeing her husband!

And as far as I can tell, anyone who reports to the ACGME will just be hazed or harassed by their bosses, and nothing else will come of it anyways…


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