The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has released its new report “Resident Duty Hours: Enhancing Sleep, Supervision, and Safety” this month. Though the report does not recommend further constriction of the current limit of 80 hours per week for residents, it does include recommendations about further reducing consecutive hours worked and inclusion of mandatory nap periods and mandatory days off. Moreover, it recommends that much of the work that residents currently peform (“scut” work) such as phlebotomy be done instead by other healthcare workers. It also calls for better supervision of residents and increased resident education in patient safety.
One important point has to do with handoffs (see our September 30, 2008 Patient Safety Tip of the Week “” and see the article just below this one). With more restricted workhours, the number of handoffs between residents has increased. The IOM report emphasizes the need to make adequate time available for handoffs to occur.