JOURNAL ARTICLE

Care of critically ill surgical patients using the 80-hour Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education work-week guidelines: a survey of current strategies

Chad R Gordon, Alex Axelrad, James B Alexander, R Phillip Dellinger, Steven E Ross
American Surgeon 2006, 72 (6): 497-9
16808201
As a result of the recently mandated work-hour restrictions, it has become more difficult to provide 24-hour intensive care unit (ICU) in-house coverage by the general surgical residents. To assess the current state of providing appropriate continuous care to surgical critical care patients during the era of resident work-hour constraints, a national survey was conducted by the Association of Program Directors of Surgery. The results revealed that 37 per cent of programs surveyed have residents other than general surgery housestaff providing cross-coverage and writing orders for surgical ICU patients. Residents in emergency medicine, anesthesia, family medicine, otorhinolaryngology, obstetrics/gynecology, internal medicine, urology, and orthopedic surgery have provided this cross-coverage. Some found it necessary to use physician extenders (i.e., nurse practitioners or physician assistants), thereby decreasing the burden of surgical housestaff coverage. The results indicated that 30 per cent use physician extenders to help cover the ICU during daytime hours and 11 per cent used them during nighttime hours. In addition, 24 per cent used a "night-float" system in an attempt to maintain continuous care, yet still adhere to the mandated guidelines. In conclusion, our survey found multiple strategies, including the use of physician extenders, a "night-float" system, and the use of nongeneral surgical residents in an attempt to provide continuous coverage for surgical ICU patients. The overall outcome of these new strategies still needs to be assessed before any beneficial results can be demonstrated.

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