The Washington Post reports that in April the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education will consider a proposal to reduce the number of hours medical residents may work per week from 80 to as few as 60. The current duty hour standards took effect July 1, 2003. They include an 80-hour weekly limit, averaged over four weeks; and a 24-hour limit on continuous duty time, with an additional period up to six hours permitted for continuity of care and educational activities.

Last October an open letter to the GME community was posted online by Thomas J. Nasca, MD, CEO of the ACGME and vice-chair of the Task Force for the Revision of ACGME Resident Duty Hour Standards. “The positive impact of current limits on resident duty hours is clear,” he wrote. “However, it does not appear that residents are sleeping dramatically more than prior to implementation of duty hour standards, and that the issue of patient safety is more related to ‘fitness for duty’ and ‘fatigue management,’ than total hours worked.” He added that the draft revisions of the duty hour standards will be posted for public comment and revised if necessary before final approval, which would likely occur in September 2010. The ACGME board of directors will meet at ACGME headquarters in Chicago, IL, Sept. 27-28, 2010. If approved, the new rules are anticipated to take effect in July 2011.