Amid regulatory mandates that cut resident duty hours, researchers examined a way to protect physician sleep time without having to sacrifice the number of resident work hours--which critics have said increases handoffs and therefore risks patient safety.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at more than 100 first-year residents from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Medical Center. The intervention group consisted of interns who worked a 30-hour shift. They had protected sleep periods between 12:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., in which they received an average of two to three hours of sleep. During that time, the interns had to give their cell phone to another awake resident to ensure proper coverage of patients.
The residents who had the power nap reported feeling less fatigued after on-call nights and increased their sleep time by half.
The subject of resident sleep has been in the national spotlight since the 2009 Institute of Medicine report, which recommended protected sleep time for residents who continuously work 30 hours. Starting in July 2011, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) ordered that first-year residents cannot work for more than 16 hours at a time.
Although the study didn't look at the effects on patient outcomes, it found that "strategic napping" could be an alternative to shorter duty hours.
For more information:
- see the research announcement and watch the video
- here's the study