Context: In their first year of postgraduate training, interns commonly work shifts that are longer than 24 hours. Extended-duration work shifts are associated with increased risks of automobile crash, particularly during a commute from work. Interns may be at risk for other occupation-related injuries.
Objective: To assess the relationship between extended work duration and rates of percutaneous injuries in a diverse population of interns in the United States.
Design, setting, and participants: National prospective cohort study of 2737 of the estimated 18,447 interns in US postgraduate residency programs from July 2002 through May 2003. Each month, comprehensive Web-based surveys that asked about work schedules and the occurrence of percutaneous injuries in the previous month were sent to all participants. Case-crossover within-subjects analyses were performed.
Main outcome measures: Comparisons of rates of percutaneous injuries during day work (6:30 am to 5:30 pm) after working overnight (extended work) vs day work that was not preceded by working overnight (nonextended work). We also compared injuries during the nighttime (11:30 pm to 7:30 am) vs the daytime (7:30 am to 3:30 pm).
Results: From a total of 17,003 monthly surveys, 498 percutaneous injuries were reported (0.029/intern-month). In 448 injuries, at least 1 contributing factor was reported. Lapse in concentration and fatigue were the 2 most commonly reported contributing factors (64% and 31% of injuries, respectively). Percutaneous injuries were more frequent during extended work compared with nonextended work (1.31/1000 opportunities vs 0.76/1000 opportunities, respectively; odds ratio [OR], 1.61; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.46-1.78). Extended work injuries occurred after a mean of 29.1 consecutive work hours; nonextended work injuries occurred after a mean of 6.1 consecutive work hours. Injuries were more frequent during the nighttime than during the daytime (1.48/1000 opportunities vs 0.70/1000 opportunities, respectively; OR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.98-2.11).
Conclusion: Extended work duration and night work were associated with an increased risk of percutaneous injuries in this study population of physicians during their first year of clinical training.