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First-year doctors will be allowed to work 24-hour shifts starting in July

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March 11, 2017View for printing

The controversial decision ends the latest phase in a decades-old discussion over how to balance physician training with the safety and needs of patients whose care is sometimes handled by young, sleep-deprived doctors -- a practice that a consumer group and a medical students' organization oppose as dangerous.

By Lenny Bernstein

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Reader Comments:

Staying healthy (and generally out of the healthcare system) is clearly a good idea for lots of reasons.

The sleep deprivation issue is a contributor but probably less important than other factors such as communication process flaws and persistent hierarchical attitudes that endanger patient care and safety.

Although we docs are fallible as humans like everyone else, my view is that doc brains can be trained to respond well under stressed conditions (e.g. being awakened in the middle of the night to sort an emergent problem). If not in residency, when?

It?s complicated. Some think IBM?s Watson is the answer. I disagree. In Medicine algorithms are useful but no substitute for decision making in the context of the whole person and their unique circumstances?the ?art? part.

Thanks for noting this important conversation.

Dr. Frank Reed
--Dr. Frank Reed

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