Operative Experience in an Orthopaedic Surgery Residency Program: The Effect of Work-Hour Restrictions

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Background:The implementation of Section 405 of the New York State Public Health Code and the adoption of similar policies by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in 2002 restricted resident work hours to eighty hours per week. The effect of these policies on operative volume in an orthopaedic surgery residency training program is a topic of concern. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of the work-hour restrictions on the operative experiences of residents in a large university-based orthopaedic surgery residency training program in an urban setting.Methods:We analyzed the operative logs of 109 consecutive orthopaedic surgery residents (postgraduate years 2 through 5) from 2000 through 2006, representing a consecutive interval of years before and after the adoption of the work-hour restrictions.Results:Following the implementation of the new work-hour policies, there was no significant difference in the operative volume for postgraduate year-2, 3, or 4 residents. However, the average operative volume for a postgraduate year-5 resident increased from 274.8 to 348.4 cases (p = 0.001). In addition, on analysis of all residents as two cohorts (before 2002 and after 2002), the operative volume for residents increased by an average of 46.6 cases per year (p = 0.02).Conclusions:On the basis of the findings of this study, concerns over the potential adverse effects of the resident work-hour polices on operative volume for orthopaedic surgery residents appear to be unfounded.

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