Brooklyn Hospital Center Fined for Violating Resident Working Hours
Albany, August 20, 1998 – The State Health Department today announced it has fined Brooklyn Hospital Center $14,000 (the maximum $2,000 per violation allowed by state law) for allowing physicians in residency training to work hours that far exceed the limits set by the State Health Department as a protection for patients.
To protect patients from medical errors due to sleep–deprived and overworked physicians, the New York State Hospital Code limits the working hours of physicians in hospital residency training programs to no more than 80 hours per week averaged over a four week period and no more than 24 consecutive hours. Close supervision of medical residents by attending physicians also is mandated.
In May, the State Health Department issued a report, based on a survey of 12 teaching hospitals, showing widespread violations of resident working hour limits, particularly among surgical residents in New York City. Brooklyn Hospital Center was one of those twelve hospitals surveyed by the Department of Health and was the subject of follow–up surveys in May and June.
Brooklyn Hospital Center has cooperated with the Department of Health to implement corrective actions to ensure that violations do not occur in the future. The hospital has hired additional staff, has reduced operating room scheduling, and has modified work assignments for residents, accordingly.
Working hour violations identified at Brooklyn Hospital Center by Health Department inspectors on May 18, June 20, June 21, 1998 include the following:
- 12 of 14 surgical residents were working in excess of 85 hours per week;
- all 14 surgical residents worked 30–36 hours straight, and 2 of 5 OB/GYN residents worked 29–34 hours straight in violation of the 24–hour maximum shift rule;
- residents "on call" during night shift hours are not generally resting due to frequent interruptions for patient care responsibilities.
The Health Department will continue with unannounced inspections of all teaching hospitals and has also worked with hospital associations and facilities across the state to provide training to improve compliance with the residency regulations.