Do regulations limiting residents' work hours affect patient mortality?

J Gen Intern Med. 2004 Jan;19(1):1-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.30336.x.


Objective: To conduct a statewide analysis of the effect of New York's regulations, limiting internal medicine and family practice residents' work hours, on patient mortality.

Design: Retrospective study of inpatient discharge files for 1988 (before the regulations) and 1991 (after the regulations).

Setting and patients: Adult patients discharged from New York teaching hospitals (170214) and nonteaching hospitals (143,455) with a principal diagnosis of congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, or pneumonia, for the years 1988 and 1991 (periods before and after Code 405 regulations went into law). Patients from nonteaching hospitals served as controls.

Measurement: In-hospital mortality.

Results: Combined unadjusted mortality for congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, and pneumonia patients declined between 1988 and 1991 in both teaching (14.1% to 13.0%; P =.0001) and nonteaching hospitals (14.0% to 12.5%; P =.0001). Adjusted mortality also declined between 1988 and 1991 in both teaching (odds ratio [OR], death 1991/1988, 0.868; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.843 to 0.894; P =.0001) and nonteaching hospitals (OR, death 1991/1988, 0.853; 95% CI, 0.826 to 0.881; P =.0001). This beneficial trend toward lower mortality over time was nearly identical between teaching and nonteaching hospitals (P =.4348).

Conclusion: New York's mandated limitations on residents' work hours do not appear to have positively or negatively affected in-hospital mortality from congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, or pneumonia in teaching hospitals.

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Family Practice / education
  • Heart Failure / mortality*
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pneumonia / mortality*
  • Retrospective Studies