Medical Students Petition to Limit Hours
Medical students, an advocacy group and several professors have filed a petition with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to limit the work week of hospital residents to 80 hours, the Los Angeles Times reports. The petition, filed by the American Medical Student Association, the consumer group Public Citizen, two medical professors and a union called the Committee of Interns and Residents, stated that hospital residents often work "grueling" schedules of 95 hours per week or more, increasing their risk of fatigue and the chance that they might "inadvertently" harm patients. The petition said that long hours also increase the risk that residents might become involved in car crashes, suffer depression and give birth to premature infants. Only one state -- New York -- has a law limiting residents to an 80-hour work week, although the petition said that this law is often "ignored." Proponents of the hefty schedules say that long hours "toughe[n]" residents and often result in a greater continuity of care for patients. OSHA has "no explicit authority" to regulate limits on employee work hours. An OSHA spokesperson declined to comment on whether the agency would "take an expansive view" of its role (Rohrlich, Los Angeles Times, 5/1). To view the petition, go to http://www.citizen.org/hrg/PUBLICATIONS/1570.htm.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.