Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Swiss Med Wkly. 2012 Jan 24;142:w13506. doi: 10.4414/smw.2012.13506.

Morbidity in surgery: impact of the 50-hour work-week limitation in Switzerland.

Author information

  • 1Department of Surgery, Spitalzentrum Biel AG, Biel, Switzerland.



Work-hour regulations for residency programmes in Switzerland, including a 50-hour weekly limit, were set in on 1 January 2005. Patient safety was one of the major arguments for the implementation. As the effect of the restriction of residency work hours on patient care in Switzerland has not yet been evaluated on objective data, the aim of the present study was to assess its impact by comparing the patients' morbidity and mortality before (2001-2004) and after (2005-2008) the implementation.


Retrospective analysis of records of the Spitalzentrum Biel AG, a large referral center classified according to the Swiss Medical Association, collected in the database of the Association for Quality Assurance in Surgery (AQC), a prospective database of consecutive patients undergoing surgical procedures in Switzerland. A selection of 2,686 patients with common surgeries, operated on by residents, was performed.


There were 1,259 (46.9%) patients meeting our inclusion criteria who were admitted during the period before introduction of work-hour limitation and 1,427 (53.1%) patients after introduction. The in-hospital mortality and postoperative surgical complication rate were significantly higher after the reform (p <0.05 and p <0.01, respectively). No significant differences could be found concerning the overall intraoperative (p = 0.61) and postoperative medical complication frequencies (p = 0.08).


The work-hour limitation implemented in Switzerland was not associated with surgical patient safety measure improvement for common surgeries (i.e., morbidity and mortality rate). Further research on a nationwide basis is needed to assess the value of the higher surgical complication and mortality rate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for EMH Swiss Medical Publishers Ltd.
    Loading ...
    Support Center