Heeding the request of Public Citizen, an advocacy group representing more than 13,000 resident physicians, OSHA has agreed to review the possibility of limiting work hours for resident physicians. In its recent “Petition to Reduce Medical Resident Work Hours,” Public Citizen contends that regulations are necessary to protect the safety of resident physicians and to create a better standard of care for patients.

Public Citizen requests imposing the following limits on resident physicians:

  • A limit of 80 hours of work per week (no averaging)
  • A limit of 16 consecutive hours in one shift
  • A minimum 24-hour period of time off per week, and a 48-hour time off period per month In-hospital and on-call frequency of no more than once every three nights (no averaging)
  • A minimum of at least 10 hours off after a day shift, and 12 hours off after a night shift
  • A maximum of four consecutive night shifts (http://www.citizen.org/hrg1917)

In its response to the petition, OSHA stated that it was “very concerned about medical residents working extremely long hours, and we know of evidence linking sleep deprivation with an increased risk of needle sticks, puncture wounds, lacerations, medical errors and motor vehicle accidents” (http://tinyurl.com/2gypf2p). Please stay tuned, we will update you further if OSHA decides to move forward on this proposal.