“It’s hard to be completely pro in the argument about the duty hours, but one thing that we do have to acknowledge is that the duty hours are here,” he said. “They’re not driven by us, they’re driven by public perception. And they’re here to stay.”
He said that “one size doesn’t fit all,” that the standards should be matched with residents’ experience levels and that the ultimate goal should be to get residents ready to practice medicine outside the confines of the learning environment.
Paul Levine, MD, chair of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, pointed out that handoffs play a bigger role in medical errors than fatigue. While “everybody has to accept” that there’s a point of fatigue when people don’t perform well, Dr. Levine said that the duty hour limits lead to fragmentation of care, missed educational opportunities and a shift of resident work to different personnel, among other problems.