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MGH Surgical Program Cited For Overtime Shifts

This article is more than 11 years old.

A national accrediting group threatened to put Massachusetts General Hospital's surgery training program on probation because residents are working too many hours.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education cited MGH and said it found about 20 percent of MGH surgical residents worked more than 80 hours a week. Twenty percent also do not get the mandated 10-hour break between shifts. The national organization claimed when doctors exceed maximum hour limits, fatigue-related accidents are more likely to occur.

Dr. Andrew Warshaw, the hospital's surgery chief, told the Boston Globe that MGH has reduced residents' workloads since learning of the violations in April. The hospital was given until August to fix the problem.

In recent years, the council has stepped up enforcement of maximum residents hours. Between 5 percent to 10 percent of surgery programs nationwide were cited for breaking the limits in 2008.

But some surgeons say limits on hours could interfere with doctors' work and end up harming patients if there are miscommunications between doctors switching patients.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on June 22, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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