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Reducing Residency Work Hours Doesn't Affect Patient Outcomes

Findings based on patients' mortality, length-of-stay under junior, senior physicians

THURSDAY, Oct. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Duty-hour reforms have not adversely affected hospital mortality or length-of-stay of patients cared for by new attending physicians who were partly or fully exposed to reduced duty hours during residency, according to research published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Anupam B. Jena, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard University in Boston, and colleagues utilized a unique database of nearly all hospitalizations in Florida (2000 to 2009) that were linked to detailed information on the medical training history of the physician of record for each hospitalization. The query allowed researchers to assess whether hospital mortality and patients' length-of-stay varied according to the number of years a physician was exposed to the 2003 duty-hour regulations during his or her residency. Junior physicians were defined as those with one-year post-residency experience pre- and post-2003. A control group of senior physicians had 10 or more years of post-residency experience and were not exposed to these reforms during their residency.

The researchers found that the duty-hour reforms did not adversely affect hospital mortality and length-of-stay of patients cared for by new attending physicians who were exposed to reduced duty hours during their residency.

"Assessment of the impact of the duty-hour reforms on other clinical outcomes is needed," the authors write.

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