The impact of the 80-hour work week on appropriate resident case coverage

J Surg Res. 2010 Jul;162(1):33-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2009.12.003. Epub 2009 Dec 30.


Background: On July 1, 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) required restriction of resident duty hours. Surgical programs were concerned about an expected decrease in operative experience. In our previous study, resident case coverage remained constant with the institution of the restricted duty hours. Several years later, we hypothesized that the level of resident coverage would be less appropriate.

Materials and methods: A retrospective study was performed of elective cases scheduled for an academic general surgery practice over three time periods: 1 y prior to institution of restricted duty hours; 1 y later; 3 y later. Data collected included procedure performed, number of attending surgeons and residents present, and resident level. Resident level was defined as appropriate if it matched or exceeded the complexity of the procedure.

Results: From July 2002 to June 2003, 890 records of 1278 scheduled cases were available for review. From July 2004 to June 2005, 961 records of 1182 cases were available. From July 2006 to June 2007, 1029 of 1171 records were available. Case coverage was the same or better in the latest time period overall and for each resident level. An appropriate level resident was available for senior level cases similarly during all periods. During the last period, junior and intermediate level cases were more often covered by a resident at the appropriate level of training.

Conclusions: The restricted duty hours have not negatively affected resident case coverage. The level of resident available for operative cases has remained constant for senior level cases. Junior and intermediate level cases were more often covered by an appropriate level resident.

MeSH terms

  • General Surgery / standards
  • General Surgery / statistics & numerical data*
  • Internship and Residency / standards
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Workload*