Orthopaedic resident and program director opinions of resident duty hours: a national survey

Hassan R Mir, Lisa K Cannada, Jayson N Murray, Kevin P Black, Jennifer M Wolf
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2011 December 7, 93 (23): e1421-9

BACKGROUND: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) established national guidelines for resident duty hours in July 2003. Following an Institute of Medicine report in December 2008, the ACGME recommended further restrictions on resident duty hours that went into effect in July 2011. We conducted a national survey to assess the opinions of orthopaedic residents and of directors of residency and fellowship programs in the U.S. regarding the 2003 and 2011 ACGME resident duty-hour regulations and the effects of these regulations on resident education and patient care.

METHODS: A fifteen-item questionnaire was electronically distributed by the Candidate, Resident, and Fellow Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) to all U.S. orthopaedic residents (n = 3860) and directors of residency programs (n = 184) and fellowship programs (n = 496) between January and April 2011. Thirty-four percent (1314) of the residents and 27% (185) of the program directors completed the questionnaire. Statistical analyses were performed to detect differences between the responses of residents and program directors and between the responses of junior and senior residents.

RESULTS: The responses of orthopaedic residents and program directors differed significantly (p < 0.001) for fourteen of the fifteen survey items. The responses of residents and program directors were divergent for questions regarding the 2003 rules. Overall, 71% of residents thought that the eighty-hour work week was appropriate, whereas only 38% of program directors agreed (p < 0.001). Most program directors (70%) did not think that the 2003 duty-hour rules had improved patient care, whereas only 24% of residents responded in the same way (p < 0.001). The responses of residents and program directors to questions regarding the 2011 duty-hour rules were generally compatible, but the degree to which they perceived the issues was different. Only 18% of residents and 19% of program directors thought that the suggested strategic five-hour evening rest period implemented in July 2011 for on-call residents was appropriate (p > 0.05), and both groups (84% of residents and 74% of program directors) also disagreed with the limitation of intern shifts to sixteen hours (p < 0.001). Seventy percent of residents and 79% of program directors thought that the new duty-hour regulations would result in an increased number of handoffs that would be detrimental to patient care (p < 0.001). The mean responses of junior residents and senior residents differed for eight of the fifteen survey items (p < 0.001), with the responses of senior residents more closely resembling those of program directors on six of these eight questions. The mean responses and percentiles for the survey items did not differ significantly between residency directors and fellowship directors (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: This national survey indicated significant differences between the opinions of orthopaedic residents and program (residency and fellowship) directors regarding the 2003 ACGME resident duty-hour regulations and the effects of these regulations on resident education and patient care. However, both residents and program directors agreed that the further reductions in duty hours in the 2011 rules may be detrimental to resident education and patient care.

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