TUESDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- A 50-hour workweek limit
for surgical residents in Switzerland may negatively affect
surgical training and quality of patient care, suggests a new
The law, introduced in 2005, limits hospital-based residents and
consultants to 14 hours per day of work, including breaks. They
must be given 11 or more consecutive hours per day of rest. The
rules have generated heated debate among surgeons.
In this study, researchers analyzed responses to surveys filled
out in 2006 by 221 residents and 184 consultants in 52 surgical
departments. Among the findings:
- Residents worked an average of 55 hours a week. Residents were
more satisfied with the new workweek limits (average score, 52 out
of 100) than consultants (average score, 41).
- Only 8.1 percent of residents and 4.9 percent of consultants
believed the new limits benefited surgical training, while 62.8
percent of residents and 77.2 percent of consultants said there was
a negative effect on surgical training.
- The new rules lowered the quality of patient care, according to
43 percent of residents and 70.1 percent of consultants, and also
had a negative effect on operating time (76.9 percent of residents
and 73.4 percent of consultants) and operating room experience
(73.8 percent of residents and 84.8 percent of consultants).
- Quality of life for residents improved, according to 58.4
percent of residents and 81.5 percent of consultants.
"Both groups reported increased chances for residents to maintain a social network and to rest," wrote Dr. Adrian Businger, of University Hospital Basel, and colleagues. "However, improved quality of life seems to be a passive consequence of the new regulations in light of the clearly negative effect on surgical education and on patient care. Residents were ambivalent about the consequences of the workweek limitation on surgical training. Residents and consultants believed that residents' training and quality of education had decreased. All aspects of surgical training were assessed as negatively affected."
The findings suggest the workweek limitations are a failure, the
authors said. They suggest that resident paperwork be reduced or
reassigned and said surgical residents must study while
The study is published in the June issue of the journal
Archives of Surgery.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more about