In this study, the authors determined how residents in internal medicine allotted their time during patient management rounds (work rounds). Fourteen house staff teams were observed for four days each, and the time spent on all activities was recorded. Of the 56 days studied, work rounds were not conducted on nine days. On the 47 days during which work rounds occurred, only 502 (76.4 percent) of a possible 657 visits to patients were made. Daily time spent on work rounds by each team averaged 49.4 minutes (range: 23.9 to 73.1), or 4.6 minutes (range: 2.3 to 6.6) per patient evaluated. Some part of a physical examination was performed on only 44 percent of the patients. For those patients examined, the average time of an examination was approximately one minute per patient. Vital signs sheets and medication sheets were reviewed infrequently. This study suggests that medical educators should be concerned about the thoroughness of house staff work rounds.