Workload redistribution: a new approach to the 80-hour workweek

Frederick Rogers, Steven Shackford, Subashini Daniel, Bruce Crookes, Kennith Sartorelli, William Charash, Peter Igneri
Journal of Trauma 2005, 58 (5): 911-4; discussion 914-6

BACKGROUND: The new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-mandated 80-hour resident work week has resulted in busy trauma services struggling to meet these strict guidelines, or face loss of accreditation.

METHODS: Beginning in July 2003, our Level I trauma service began a policy of direct admission of isolated neurosurgical or orthopedic injuries to the specific subspecialty service after complete evaluation by the trauma service in the emergency department for associated injuries. Complications, missed injuries, delayed diagnoses, and admission rates were compared in two 6-month periods: PRE, before the policy change; and POST, after the new policy had been instituted. Resident work hours were likewise compared over the two time periods.

RESULTS: Selected single-system injury admission to subspecialty services resulted in a 15% reduction in admissions to the trauma service. There were no significant differences in the overall complication rate, delayed diagnoses, or missed diagnoses between the PRE and POST time periods. Overall, there was a 9.7% reduction in resident work hours (p = 0.45; analysis of variance) between the PRE and POST periods, which allowed them, on average, to meet the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education 80-hour workweek mandate.

CONCLUSION: Direct admission of patients with isolated injuries to subspecialty services is safe and decreases the workload of residents on busy trauma services.

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