From falsifying timesheets to being forced into working long shifts, recent reports indicate that last July’s rules set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) intended to help curb possible fatigue-related errors of medical residents aren’t always being followed to the letter.
According to an article on CNN.com, reports from residents and even the ACGME point to specific instances where residents are being asked to break the rules.
The rules, which limit working shifts for residents to no more than 30 hours straight or 80 hours per week, were developed to create a balance between “the needs of patient care, resident well-being and academic and clinical education,” said a 2003 press release by the ACGME. Failure to comply with the rules could result in anything from “adverse accreditation action” to a loss of accreditation for the graduate medical program.
However, Ingrid Philbert, director of field activities for the AGCME, told CNN that developing a standard doesn’t always mean everyone will comply. “Standards do not produce perfect compliance,” said Philbert. “There are always a few programs that don’t follow the rules.”
Worker fatigue can be a problem in any industry, leading to an increase in errors and substandard job performance in addition to other problems. In the medical field, a 2002 report by ABC News found that 41 percent of doctors polled cited fatigue as the cause of their most serious medical mistakes.
Sources: CNN.com, ABC News, ACGME.org