Work-hour limits for surgical residents didn't result in more sleep but did result in less of a sense of preparedness, a study found.
To evaluate the effect of duty hour limits started in 2003 on residents' perception of education, researchers conducted an annual survey from 2003 to 2009 among orthopedic residents in a multi-institutional program.
Researchers asked about work hours, amount of sleep, fatigue and its impact, and preparedness for practice, receiving 216 responses (69%).
Results appeared in the Archives of Surgery.
The residents reported that their sufficiency of direct clinical experience, the number of hours spent performing major procedures, the overall satisfaction with education and sense of clinical preparedness diminished after the work hour limits were enacted.
Despite working fewer mean hours (74.5 hours in 2003 vs. 66.2 hours in 2009), average hours of sleep didn't vary significantly (34.6 hours per week in 2003 vs. 33.7 hours per week between 2004 and 2009); P=0.046). Researchers did note that perceived fatigue and its negative impact on patient safety and quality of care fell.
That's right; the perceptions of fatigue improved without any increase in the actual amount of sleep.