Resident duty hours in American neurosurgery.
The unexpected death of Libby Zion, at New York Hospital in 1984, led to a series of investigations that recently resulted in profound changes in resident duty hours. On July 1, 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (the governing body of all residency programs in the United States) mandated the following work hours rules: no more than 80 hours per week, no more than 24 hours of continuous patient care (with an added 6-hour transition period), 1 day in 7 free of patient care responsibilities, and a minimum of 10 rest hours between duty periods. These rules are based on a considerable body of scientific study indicating that sleep loss affects cognitive performance and, possibly, patient care. The new work hours have stimulated vigorous debate, both pro and con. Those arguments are reviewed.