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Doctors underwent “extreme sleep deprivation” in studies of effect on patient deaths

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6295 (Published 20 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6295
  1. Jeanne Lenzer
  1. 1New York

Revelations that two studies waived limits on first year resident doctors’ working hours to investigate whether their patients were more likely to die have led to a public outcry.1 Public Citizen, a watchdog organization that is based in Washington, DC, and the American Medical Student Association are calling for an investigation into the studies.

Both trials waived the limits on residents’ working hours, which were reduced in 2011 from a maximum of 30 consecutive hours to 16 hours by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The council put the working hour restrictions in place after a 200 report by the Institute of Medicine concluded that first year residents made “more errors when working longer consecutive hours.”2 The institute’s report added, “Entrusting care to residents with inadequate experience is neither good education, nor quality, safe patient care.”

One of the trials, the FIRST (Flexibility in Duty Hour Requirements for Surgical Trainees) trial, involving first year surgery residents, was recently completed, and …

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