New guidelines from the US Institute of Medicine have recommended that medical residents in hospitals should work no more than 16 hours at a time without taking an obligatory 5-hour sleep break, and that they should get one full day off a week and two back-to-back days off a month - in order to maintain standards and avoid errors. Medical residencies last between three and seven years depending on the professional speciality.
"Our overarching conclusion is that the science clearly shows that fatigue increases the chances of errors, and residents often work long hours without rest and regular time off," said Michael M.E. Johns, chancellor of Emory University and leader of the panel.
Earlier guidelines, produced in 2003, are widely believed to be violated regularly within the profession.
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