The authors of a new study are calling for major changes in hospital residency programs. An article published in the latest online journal Nature and Science of Sleep says resident fatigue, overwork and lack of supervision lead to serious, preventable medical errors. One recommendation is that all medical residents should work no more than 16 hours without sleep. The recommendations are not new but critics say they haven’t been implemented. But change is not easy, according Dr. Kevin Kavanaugh of Somerset. The longtime proponent of healthcare reform says any changes must be made carefully.
“Make sure we still have proper funding of the system, that we still have proper residence education and training, but that you don’t have a draconian type of residency program when you have dazed residents going around who can’t keep their eyes open, said Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh says making changes will be difficult because healthcare delivery is so intertwined and complex.
“There’s many, many forces involved. For example, if you cut back on resident workload, you’re going to increase a patient’s safety for the resident who is vastly overworked, but you also increase transferring a patient between residents. You’ve got to make sure you’ve got continuity of care, “said Kavanaugh.
Some of the recommendations are not new. Critics say they just haven’t been implemented. Kavanaugh says any major changes in health care require a huge price tag.