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AMA Survey Finds Next Generation of Physicians Plagues by Sleep Deprivation

Armen Hareyan's picture

Sleep Deprivation and Physicians

Many medical students and residents in hospitals across the country are plagued by sleep deprivation and fatigue, according a new American Medical Association (AMA) member survey released today.

The survey was conducted to determine what effect resident duty hour requirements, implemented by the Accreditation Council for Graduated Medical Education (ACGME) in July 2003, are having on medical students and resident physicians. According to the ACGME, resident physicians may not work more than 80 hours per week and on-site duty cannot exceed 24 consecutive hours (there are no national specific hour restriction guidelines for medical students).

"This valuable information tells us that too many of our medical students and residents are tired and sleep deprived, and they feel that it can effect the quality of their education and training," said AMA Board of Trustees Chair J. James Rohack, MD. "We must curb excessive duty hours, while at the same time ensuring the highest quality of patient care."

Approximately 44 percent of residents and 39 percent of medical students reported that they experienced periods of prolonged sleep deprivation about once a week or more often during their most recently completed rotation. The survey also found that 11 percent of residents and 12 percent of students worked more than 80 hours per week on their most recently completed rotation.

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Key findings include:

50 percent of residents and 45 percent of medical students believe that sleep deprivation or fatigue may have had a negative effect on the quality of patient care they delivered.

69 percent of residents and 66 percent of medical students also believe that sleep deprivation or fatigue may have had a negative effect on the quality of their learning.

Half of residents and three-fourths of medical students said that they would be uncomfortable reporting working excessive duty-hours.

The survey was conducted as part of the AMA's Member Connect