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

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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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