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J Grad Med Educ. 2009 Dec;1(2):181-4. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-09-00067.1.

Failure to thrive: pediatric residents weigh in on feasibility trial of the proposed 2008 institute of medicine work hour restrictions.



In December 2008 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report recommending limits on resident hours that are considerably more restrictive than the current Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education duty hour standards.


In March 2009, a large pediatric residency program implemented a 1-month trial of a schedule and team structure fully congruent with the IOM recommendations to study the implications of such a schedule.


Comparison of the interns' experience in the trialed intervention schedule was made to interns working a traditional schedule with every fourth night call.


The residents on the intervention schedule averaged 7.8 hours of sleep per 24-hour period compared to 7.6 hours for interns in a traditional schedule. Participation in bedside rounds and formal didactic conferences was decreased in the intervention schedule. Several factors contributed to increased perceived work intensity for interns in the intervention schedule. Redistribution of work during busy shifts altered the role of senior residents and attending physicians which may have a negative effect on senior residents' ability to develop skills as supervisors and educators.


The trial implementation suggests it is possible to implement the proposed duty hour limits in a pediatric residency, but it would require a significant increase in the resident workforce (at least 25% and possibly 50%) to care for the same number of patients. Furthermore, the education model would need to undergo significant changes. Further trials of the IOM recommendations are needed prior to widespread implementation in order to learn what works best and causes the least harm, disruption, and unnecessary cost to the system.

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