In 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) passed regulations stating that first-year resident doctors can work no longer than 16 hours during one shift and must be given at least eight hours off in between shifts. The regulations were designed to ensure both the safety of patients and the well-being of first year doctors, many of whom are under 30.
But last November, the ACGME announced a proposal to roll back the restriction on hours. If the proposal is passed, first-year resident doctors could be required to work the same number of hours as more experienced doctors. Shifts could be as long as 28 hours and scheduled back-to-back without a full eight-hour break in between.
As a patient, this terrifies me. There is no way that I want a 26-year-old first year resident performing any procedure on me after they have been on their feet for 28 hours. That is how accidents happen. That is how people die.
As the wife of a fourth-year medical student about to enter into his first year of residency, it also terrifies me. I have seen how long hours and sleep deprivation can change a young doctor. At best, they can become jaded and chronically tired. At worst, they can become completely disconnected from their friends and family, some even suicidal.
A 16-hour shift is already long and stressful, but a 28-hour shift is inhumane and dangerous for both patients and new doctors. Please sign my petition demanding that the ACGME Board of Directors reject the proposal to roll back restrictions on how long a first year resident doctor can work during one shift.
Dear Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education Board of Directors,
We oppose allowing medical interns to work shifts longer than the current limit of 16 hours. The research is clear: Tired interns are more likely to make mistakes that injure or even kill their patients, and are more likely to be injured themselves. The American people are counting on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to keep us safe.
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