Medical Residents' Work Hours

It is time to take a stand for quality health care. We deserve competent health care from well-rested physicians.  Use these resources to become better-informed about our approach to solving the longstanding problem of resident physicians' working conditions and the effect these conditions have on patient care.

HRG Petition to Occupational Safety and Health Administration

4/30/01 - Petition 

American medical residents regularly work 95 hours a week, sometimes logging as many as 136 out of the available 168 hours in a week. It is the federal government's responsibility to limit the number of hours worked by medical residents and fellows because over-fatigued physicians pose a health risk to the patients that they are forced to treat while in an impaired condition and are at increased risk of being in auto crashes, suffering depression and giving birth to premature infants.

8/2/01 - Interim OSHA response to petition

10/4/02 - OSHA denial of petition

10/10/02 - Public Citizen response to OSHA denial

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rejected a petition to restrict medical resident work hours, opting instead to rely on inadequate standards being adopted by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the private trade association that represents and accredits residency programs. Those standards are voluntary and contain loopholes that will not protect medical residents – doctors-in-training who often work more than 100 hours per week.

10/17/02 - Table describing the various resident hours reform proposals.

Legislation

These pieces of legislation address the problems of both resident overwork and inadequate supervision.

108 Congress

HR 1228:
Patient and Physician Safety and Protection Act of 2003

html version of legislation
pdf version of legislation

107 Congress

HR 3236:
Patient and Physician Safety and Protection Act of 2001

html version of legislation 
pdf version of legislation

S2614:
Patient and Physician Safety and Protection Act of 2002

html version of legislation
pdf version of legislation

Antitrust Class Action Litigation

Jung v. AAMC

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is a computerized process that allows graduating medical students and residency programs to each list their preferences and then assigns students to a single program with a non-negotiable employment contract.  This lawsuit, which seeks to represent 200,000 resident physicians, asserts that the lack of competition created by the NRMP fosters an unhealthy work environment.  Resident physicians are forced to take the position offered and accept all conditions of employment, including lengthy work hours and poor supervision.  This flawed process reduced competitive pressures on hospitals that employ residents, resulting in low salaries (often calculated to be $10 an hour) and long and unsafe work hours.

Other HRG Publications

Letter to Institute of Medicine criticizing their recent report on sleep disorders for failure to address the issue of resident work hours (June 9, 2006)

Statement of Peter Lurie, MD, MPH, Deputy Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, on Two Studies in New England Journal of Medicine Showing Benefits of Reduced Hours for Doctors in Training (October 27, 2004)

Letter to Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education commenting on the Council's proposal for medical resident duty hours (August 2, 2002)

Letter in Internal Medicine News concerning an error in their article "Residents' Hours Put Students on Picket Line" (July 15, 2001, p. 29)

Other Links - More Information

Congressman John Conyers, Jr.  chief sponsor of HR1228

American Medical Student Association

Committee of Interns and Residents


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