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J Grad Med Educ. 2014 Dec;6(4):658-63. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-14-00128.1.

Hospitalized Patients' Perceptions of Resident Fatigue, Duty Hours, and Continuity of Care.



Physicians' perceptions of duty hour regulations have been closely examined, yet patient opinions have been largely unstudied to date.


We studied patient perceptions of residency duty hours, fatigue, and continuity of care following implementation of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education 2011 Common Program Requirements.


A cross-sectional survey was administered between June and August 2013 to inpatients at a large academic medical center and an affiliated community hospital. Adult inpatients on teaching medical and surgical services were eligible for inclusion in the study.


Survey response rate was 71.3% (513 of 720). Most respondents (57.1%, 293 of 513) believed residents should not be assigned to shifts longer than 12 hours, and nearly half (49.7%, 255 of 513) wanted to be notified if a resident caring for them had worked longer than 12 hours. Most patients (63.2%, 324 of 513) believed medical errors commonly occurred because of fatigue, and fewer (37.4%, 192 of 513; odds ratio, 0.56; P < .01) believed medical errors commonly occurred as a result of transfers of care. Given the choice between a familiar physician who "may be tired from a long shift" or a "fresh" physician who had received sign-out, more patients chose the fresh but unfamiliar physician (57.1% [293 of 513] versus 42.7% [219 of 513], P < .01).


In a survey about physician attributes relevant to medical errors and patient safety, adult inpatients in a large and diverse sample reported greater concern about fatigue and working hours than about continuity of care.

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