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Overworked medical residents could lead to medical mistakes

Individuals in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are aware that medical professionals are required to fulfill educational and residency experience before he or she is able to treat patients. While medical professionals go through years of education and on-hand experience, rigorous training and education do not always prevent medical errors. In fact, the structure for medical and surgical residents could be groundwork for medical mistakes.

There are work hour limits set for medical and surgical residents. And because residents are often overworked, attempting to get as much experience as possible, a set number of consecutive work hours has been set to ensure the safety of the patients these residents are working on and with.

Previously, the set number of consecutive hours residents are allowed to work was decreased to 16 ours; however, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education is proposing to increase that number to 28 hours. A decade and a half ago these numbers were reduced because studies found that sleep deprivation leads to medical accidents and errors; therefore there are some concerns with this proposal to reverse these standards.

The idea is that this increase would provide residents with more on-the-job experience and training; however, this situation does increase the chances of medical mistakes. Moreover, this could present issues for the quality of patient care and even the wellbeing of the medical or surgical resident.

There are many arguments for stricter limits on resident work hours, which include sleep deprivation and mental and physical exhaustion. Attempting to stay awake overnight could reduce mental clarity and even the ability to remain friendly to patients and staff.

If you or a loved one have been injured due to an overworked medical professional, it is important that you understand your rights. There are recourses available to injured patients, and a medical malpractice claim could help patients recover damages for any losses or expenses incurred.

Source: Forbes, "Changes In Medical Resident Work Hour Limits Don't Solve Big Problems," Bruce Y. Lee, Nov. 6, 2016

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