Chester County Medical Malpractice Lawyers Question Whether New Rule Will Lead to More Medical Mistakes
It is commonly understood that in order to do one’s job well, proper rest is needed. However, doctors in training, or medical interns, are now permitted to work shifts as long as 28 hours. The new, relaxed guidelines replace previous rules that prevented interns from working more than 16 hours in one shift. The reasoning is that fewer mistakes are made when the number of shift changes in the hospital setting are reduced. The Accreditation Counsel for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) argues that more shift changes leave open the possibilities for more medical mistakes since many mistakes are made during the “hand-off” between shifts.
Since 2011, the shift hours were capped for rookie doctors over concerns that fatigue could lead to more medical mistakes. Other public research groups contend that many studies show that doctor fatigue contributes to mistakes and that lack of sleep is dangerous to patients and doctors alike. They are concerned that the industry is misguided and that public health is at risk. Medical mistakes by doctors can ultimately lead to medical malpractice claims brought by patients and families.
Many doctors also said that interns should be placed under the same real-life situations as other more seasoned doctors to get them used to the long hours that could lie ahead for them. Some first-year residents believe that the long-shifts are part of a “patriarchal hazing system” and should not be encouraged. Critics argue that some doctors felt that if they had to endure the long hours during residency, that newer doctors should do the same. The American Medical Student Association opposed the change as well.
Yet, the ACGME states that the 16-hour time limit prevented interns from providing continuity in care and other problems arose as a result of that limit. They felt that the changes intended by this cap, which was put in place six years ago, did not turn out to be as positive as originally envisioned. They stated that interns were not able to see the end result of their work with the patient, and the patients want to see the same doctor coming to see them. Additionally, they argued that although the long 24- to 28-hour shifts are infrequent, but when needed, they are very important.
This change will be effective July 1, 2017. Some specialties such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and internal medicine will likely remain under hour restrictions. Only time will tell if this change leads to more mistakes or more medical malpractice cases against first-year residents. Patients and families of patients in hospitals may wish to be more cognizant of the first-year residents who are involved in their care and take note of the length of the interns’ shifts.
Chester County Medical Malpractice Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Victims of Medical Mistakes
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a medical mistake made by a first-year intern or any other more seasoned doctor, contact the Chester County medical malpractice lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC at 215-569-8488 or submit an online contact form. We have offices in Chester County, Philadelphia, and Montgomery County in Pennsylvania, as well as Wilmington, Delaware, and Haddonfield, New Jersey.