The PMD Critical List: Are 30-Hour Shifts a Good Thing?

February 29, 2016
Greg Kelly

A new national study suggests surgical residents benefit from longer shifts, seemingly defying the notion that such lengthy periods are too grueling. That story tops this week’s PMD Critical List. Also making the list: Congress and the president find a way to confirm a nominee, and Elvis Presley’ personal physician has “left the building.â€

A new national study suggests surgical residents benefit from longer shifts, seemingly defying the notion that such lengthy periods are too grueling. That story tops this week’s PMD Critical List. Also making the list: Congress and the president find a way to confirm a nominee, and Elvis Presley’ personal physician has “left the building.”

Long Shifts by Resident Doctors Harmless (Philly.com)

A New England Journal of Medicine national study “found that surgical residents who worked up to 30 consecutive hours were more satisfied with their training and patient care than residents restricted to 16-hour shifts.” The idea that doctor in training often work to the point of extreme exhaustion “is a misconception.”

Dr. Robert Califf Confirmed for FDA Chief (Politico)

In a rare bit of agreement between the president and the US Senate, a physician was approved to lead “an agency that’s responsible for regulating industries that account for about 25% of US consumer spending.” The former cardiologist at Duke University was approved by 89-4.

Elvis Presley's Physician, “Dr. Nick” is Dead (The Washington Post)

Dr. George Nichopoulos, the physician “who prescribed thousands of doses of various drugs for Elvis Presley during the singer’s final years, and who was acquitted of being criminally responsible in his 1977 death,” has passed away in Memphis. He first treated “The King” for saddle sores.

Cure for Dementia by 2021 (Daily Telegraph)

British scientist/executive Dennis Gillings, PhD, the outgoing chairman of the World Dementia Council, says “recent scientific progress had surpassed his expectations, with two potential breakthrough remedies for this dreaded disease on the horizon.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron created the council and appointed Dr. Gillings in 2013.

Surrounded by Pain, Doctors Turn to Poetry (STAT)

A satisfying report about Dr. Michael Shreve, a Minnesota pediatric pulmonologist, who is “not alone in turning to poetry to help him cope with the emotional burden of work as a physician.” So many doctors “write verse that it has become its own genre, with distinct literary journals and prizes.”

What to Do if Your Patient is a Bigot (Becker’s Hospital Review)

In a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, doctor-authors opine: “a patient's refusal of care based on the treating physician's race or ethnic background can raise thorny ethical, legal and clinical issues—and can be painful, confusing, and scarring for the physicians involved.” They offer some helpful steps.

Doctor Depression: “You’re Not Alone” (Medical Daily)

“Too many physicians, especially trainees, suffer in silence, afraid to ask for help for fear that they will be punished professionally, if not personally,” Dr. Aaron Carroll offers in a compelling and helpful video. “Raising awareness about the issue would allow doctors to begin removing the stigma of mental health treatment.”

Patients Begin to Get a Look at Doctor Notes (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle)

Under a pilot program called OpenNotes, New York-area “patients are allowed access to the documentation that doctors and nurses make based on a medical appointment or discussion.” Pros: Getting patients more involved in their care. Cons: Patients may need more context to fully understand what's written.

9 Things the Happiest People Never Do (Inc.)

A recent survey shows that 90% of physicians have feelings of burnout/unhappiness. It should help to know that “the happiest people focus a lot more on what they do, not on what they have.” Also: “They don't compare themselves to others people” and “They aren't afraid to be themselves” and more …