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Making the Case for Investigating Flexibility in Duty Hour Limits for Surgical Residents

Karl Y. Bilimoria, MD, MS1,2; David B. Hoyt, MD2; Frank Lewis, MD3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center (SOQIC), Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
2American College of Surgeons, Chicago, Illinois
3American Board of Surgery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA Surg. 2015;150(6):503-504. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2015.0239.
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This Viewpoint explores whether flexibility should be allowable for duty hour limits for surgical residents.

Restrictions on the number of hours that resident physicians can work continue to ignite tremendous controversy among stakeholders. The debate predominantly concerns whether restrictions enhance or endanger patient safety and resident education. The purported benefits of duty hour limits are fairly evident: well-rested residents will be less prone to error and burnout, and they will have more time to study their field. While this may sound logical, it may actually be that duty hour restrictions disrupt continuity of care because the physician who knows the patient best may not follow the patient through critical phases of their hospitalization, stabilization, or surgery. The resulting handoffs may compromise patient safety and reduce continuous contact time and hands-on experiences for trainees.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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