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U.S. doctors in training to work longer hours under new guidelines

U.S. doctors in training to work longer hours under new guidelines
From Reuters - March 10, 2017

Days may get a lot longer for some doctors in training after the group that oversees medical education in the United States rolled back controversial rules limiting the number of hours first-year residents may work.

Beginning July 1, doctors in their first year of training after medical school may once again care for patients for up to 24 hours at a time and work a total of 80 hours per week, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) announced on Friday.

In 2011, the group restricted these first-year residents to 16 hours at a stretch over concerns that patient care couldsuffer if trainees were overly tired.

Opponents at the time argued the restrictions did not protect patients and limited educational opportunities for trainees. Their concerns were largely confirmed by a flurry of new research.

"I think we have a little bit more information through a review of all these studies to say we do not think (cuttingfirst-year resident hours) made a major difference in patient outcomes and experiences," said Dr. Rowen Zetterman, who co-chaired the ACGME task force overseeing the changes.

About one in seven active doctors in the United States is currently in a ACGME-accredited training program, according to the organization.

In addition to rolling back work-hour restrictions on first-year residents, ACGME made changes to reinforce patient safety and physician wellbeing.

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