New Rules Will Allow Young Doctors to Work 28 Hours Straight, Despite Public Safety Concerns

Despite concerns from the public about safety, the private group that oversees physician training voted to allow young doctors to work shifts as long as 28 hours.

A doctor wears a stethoscope as he see a patient for a measles vaccination during a visit to the Miami Children’s Hospital on June 02, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The new rules, which begin on July 1, relax work restrictions put in place in 2011, when mounting evidence showed that exhausted residents — the term for doctors in training — were endangering both patients and themselves. Currently, first-year residents are restricted to 16-hour shifts.

Leaders of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education said the work limits for first-year residents, known as interns, needed to be extended to match the 28-hour shifts now allowed for more experienced trainees. They said it was harming interns’ education by reducing their time in the hospital.

Surgeons had been especially critical of the 16-hour limits, saying that at times interns were forced to leave the surgical team during an operation to avoid breaking the rules.

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