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ICU Staff Can Cut Work Hours with 14-Hour Shift Schedule

Changing traditional work shift does not compromise patient outcomes

FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Changing the "long-call" schedule for interns, residents and fellows to a 14-hour work shift can reduce the number of work hours without compromising patient care, according to a report in the December issue of Chest.

Bekele Afessa, M.D., F.C.C.P., and colleagues from the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., compared a five-week pilot study of a 14-hour work-shift model to a traditional four-month work period for housestaff working in a medical intensive care unit (MICU). Patient outcomes and housestaff performance were measured for each period.

The authors found no differences in patient outcome, "although the power of [the] study to detect significant differences in mortality, length of stay and educational outcomes was low." The 14-hour shift schedule reduced the number of weekly work hours from 73.3 to 61.3 for residents and 65.3 for fellows.

"There is a growing body of literature on the real and potential adverse effects of prolonged duty hours for housestaff caring for hospitalized patients," the authors write. "Our study shows that a 14-hour shift model is a feasible option for housestaff rotation in the MICU."

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