Experts call for lighter resident workload to protect patients

Key recommendations in the report include: 

• Limiting all resident physician work hours to shifts of 12 to 16 hours;

• Making work-hour compliance a condition for getting Medicare graduate medical education (GME) dollars;

• Identifying in real time when a resident physician's workload is excessive and additional staff should be activated;

• Requiring attending physicians to supervise all hospital admissions;

• Mandating in-house supervision for all critical care services, including emergency, intensive care and trauma services; and 

• Making comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal. 

The recommendations go on to note that "fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but for nurses, attending physicians and other healthcare workers."