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Shorter hospital shifts reduce errors and improve patient outcomes

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 28 October 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:998
  1. Scott Gottlieb
  1. New York

    Two new studies confirm what many junior doctors have long known—that shortening the length of on-call shifts improves doctors' performance, and in turn, patient outcomes.

    In the first study Dr Steven Lockley of the division of sleep medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and Harvard Medical School, found that interns slept more and performed better when they were part of rotations specifically designed to give them more time to sleep during their shifts (New England Journal of Medicine 2004;351:1829-37).

    The researchers studied 20 interns during their two three-week rotations in intensive care units. Each intern was observed during a traditional rotation schedule …

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