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Gunnar W, Soncrant C, Lynn MM, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16:255-258.
Retained surgical items (RSI) are considered ‘never events’ but continue to occur. In this study, researchers compared the RSI rate in Veterans Health (VA) surgery programs with (n=46) and without (n=91) surgical count technology and analyzed the resulting root cause analyses (RCA) for these events. The RSI rate was significantly higher in for the programs with surgical count technology compared to the programs without (1/18,221 vs. 1/30,593). Analysis of RCAs found the majority of incidents (64%) involved human factors issues (e.g., staffing changes during shifts, staff fatigue), policy/procedure failures (e.g., failure to perform methodical wound sweep) or communication errors.
Parshuram CS, Amaral ACKB, Ferguson ND, et al. CMAJ. 2015;187:321-9.
This randomized controlled trial of different resident shift lengths (12, 16, and 24 hours) sought to examine how duty hours affect patient safety, housestaff well-being, and handoffs. The authors found no effects on patient safety outcomes, including adverse events and mortality. This study adds to literature suggesting that decreasing duty hours does not improve safety for hospitalized patients.
Sixth Report of Session 2008–09. House of Commons Health Committee. London, England: The Stationery Office; July 3, 2009. Publication HC 151-I.
This government report analyzes the National Health Service's efforts to enhance patient safety and recommends improving certain areas, such as adopting technology, analyzing failure, and ensuring both practitioner education and adequate staffing.
Bhavsar J, Montgomery D, Li J, et al. Am J Med. 2007;120:968-74.
Research into the effects of residency work hour restrictions on patient safety has yielded mixed results in the surgical, medical, and intensive care settings. This retrospective analysis of patients admitted with an acute coronary syndrome—both before and after work hour restrictions had gone into effect—demonstrated improvements in the quality and efficiency of care with no adverse impact on patient outcomes. While the authors point out that a concurrent quality improvement program was also implemented during the study period, they call for greater research into the structural and process factors that may contribute to improved outcomes.
Horwitz LI, Kosiborod M, Lin Z, et al. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:97-103.
The 2003 regulations reducing housestaff duty hours have been controversial. Although some research has shown fewer errors when housestaff worked shorter shifts, many commentators have raised concern about the potential for errors associated with more transfers of care between physicians. This study sought to directly examine the effect of duty hours limitations on clinical outcomes by comparing medical patients hospitalized on a resident service to patients on a non-teaching service before and after duty hour reduction. There was no detectable increase in adverse events among patients cared for by residents, and some outcomes improved (eg, potential medication errors). Another study in the same issue also found reduced inpatient mortality among medical (but not surgical) patients after implementation of duty hour limitations. The accompanying editorial discusses these two studies in the context of growing evidence that limiting work hours "does no harm" to patients.
Shetty KD, Bhattacharya J. Ann Intern Med. 2007;147:73-80.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's 2003 regulations limiting housestaff duty hours likely improved residents' quality of life, but the effect on patients has been controversial. A prior review did not find evidence linking reduced work hours to improved patient safety. This study analyzed administrative data from 591 community hospitals before and after implementation of duty hours limitations to determine their effect on inpatient mortality. Mortality was reduced among medical patients in teaching hospitals (compared with non-teaching hospitals) after duty hour limitations came into effect, but no such changes were seen in surgical patients. Another study published in the same issue found improvements in some clinical outcomes among medical patients at a single teaching hospital. The accompanying editorial discusses these two studies in the context of growing evidence that limiting work hours "does no harm" to patients.