Background: The goal of this study was to analyze the impact of the 80-hour work week on the emergency operative experience of surgical residents.
Methods: A 2-year retrospective comparison of the operative experience in emergency abdominal procedures of postgraduate year 4 and 5 residents in a city hospital before (group 1) and after (group 2) duty hour restriction.
Results: There was no difference between groups in the mean number of procedures performed as the primary surgeon, but group 2 showed a 40% decrease in technically advanced procedures with a 44% increase in basic procedures. The study also demonstrated a 54% decrease in the operative volume as first assistant. Operative continuity of care by residents decreased from 60% to 26% of cases.
Conclusions: The ACGME regulatory environment is adversely affecting the emergency operative experience of surgical residents. Our findings underscore the need to develop alternative methods to augment the residents' operative experience.