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Extended shifts for new doctors pose risks

New York residents who are concerned about their medical care should be aware that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, a private organization that oversees doctor training in the United States, has suggested amending regulations so that newly graduated doctors can work in shifts up to 28 hours long. This would relax current restrictions of 16-hour shifts for first-year residents, which were established in 2011 when it was apparent that the exhaustion of residents was placing them and their patients in danger.

Studies have shown that the longer residents work, the more likely they are to make medical errors that could result in death. Residents are also exposed to an increased risk of getting into vehicle accidents after they drive home after an extended shift. Almost 20 percent of residents at UCLA stated in a 2007 survey that due to work fatigue, they had fallen asleep while driving.

Advocates for the changes state that the patients can be put at risk by the current limits on shifts that require residents to leave at a certain time. They also state that the longer shifts will prepare the residents for when they will have to practice medicine without supervision. A number of consumer groups and physicians are highly critical of the proposal as it goes against the findings of an Institute of Medicine study that determined it was dangerous for doctors to work more than 16 hours in a row.

Physicians who work extended hours may be more prone to committing errors and engaging in medical malpractice. A personal injury attorney should be consulted if an individual suffers a worsened medical condition or some other injury due to a doctor's negligence. Financial compensation may be obtained for the failure to properly treat infections, to accurately diagnose an illness and more.

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