Just How Long Should a Resident’s Workday Be?

Clayton Dalton, a resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, argues over at NPR that the issue has not been laid to rest, despite findings in a recent study that says that longer days don’t detract from quality.

A study published in March in the New England Journal of Medicine divides residents into two groups. In one, there was no limit on how many hours a resident could work in a shift. In the other, first-year residents were limited to 16-hour shifts, while more senior residents could work up to 28-hour shifts. The study concludes that the length of shift did not impact patient safety.

Accuse we journalist types of being wimpy if you’re so inclined, but unless we’re in a war zone, 28-hour shifts still seem like a heavy lift to us. And Dalton agrees: “I don’t think I’m alone in finding that sleep deprivation warps my ability to provide compassionate care.”