New Guidelines for Working Medical Residents Would Add $1.6 Billion Annually

Goal is to improve patient safety and health outcomes, but who is going to pay?

Pathologists are aware of the ongoing debate about the overwork of medical residents, who traditionally worked 100 or more hours per week. Medical experts regularly point out how overworking medical residents may result in fatigue-related adverse events that negatively affect patient safety. These adverse events cost teaching hospitals money in additional care and/or malpractice claims. Now comes a new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) which determined that it remains more profitable to continue this practice than to hire extra help.

The study, Cost Implications of Reduced Work Hours and Workloads for Resident Physicians, was conducted by researchers from UCLA and the RAND Corp, a nonprofit research facility in Los Angeles. The study was initiated in response to recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to limit medical resident work hours.