Young doctors will be allowed to work longer shifts lifting the 16-hour limit that was put in place in 2011 over concerns of safety for themselves and the patients.
The new work limits, which will take effect on July 1, will allow doctors in training who are on their first year to work for as long as 28 hours or more.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education said on March 10 that the new work limits is designed to match the 28-hour work shifts of senior physicians.
The limited time spent by the first-year residents in the hospital is also limiting their time to learn more as interns. ACGME found the 16-hour cap not enough.
The decision to change the rules came after most of the surgeons observed that there were times when residents — the term for doctors in training — leave the operating room when the 16-hour cap expires to avoid breaking the rules.
On the other hand, the cap on work hours could also mean additional costs to hospitals, which will hire additional staff to perform the work of the young doctors. Hospitals receive as much as $130,000 annually for each resident courtesy of Medicare.
Why 16-Hour Cap
The current rules have restricted first-year residents to 16 hours work shifts after some doctors reported to have experienced professional burnout.
The study of burnout among physicians in the United States was first published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2011 where 38 percent of the doctors experienced the feeling of being ineffective and lack of enthusiasm in their work.
According to a 2017 survey, some 51 percent of doctors have reported experiencing the feelings of burnout. The number was lower in 2013 at 40 percent.
The New Rules In Details
There are three things to know under the revised rules.
1. First-year residents' work hours is extended to 24 hours with a transition of four hours between patients and physicians, which brings to a total of 28-hour shifts.
2. The new rules do not extend the total shift time in a week which remains at 80 hours.
3. Under the revised rules, first-year doctors in training are required to maintain the same schedules with other physicians on duty to learn and enhance team-based patient care.
"The American public deserves to know that starting on day one physicians in practice already have the real-world experience they need to ensure high quality patient care," ACGME chief executive officer Thomas Nasca said.
"[Rookie physicians have] the right to develop such experience under appropriate supervision to manage the lifetime of demands and stress that come with the privilege of patient trust." said Nasca.