State Health Department Reports that Majority of Hospitals in New York are Complying With Resident Working Hour Law

Hospital Compliance Rate Near 90 Percent Statewide

ALBANY, NY, April 19, 2006 -- State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today announced that the overwhelming majority of New York's 118 teaching hospitals are in compliance with state resident working hour requirements - with hospital compliance rates near 90 percent statewide.

Since 2001, teaching hospitals throughout NYS have been inspected to ensure their compliance with state regulations regarding resident work hours. Resident work hour non-compliance has decreased four consecutive years, declining from 64 percent in 2001 to approximately 12 percent from October 2004 to September of 2005.

"We are pleased with the progress hospitals throughout New York State have made in this area and will continue to pursue perfect compliance under the law," Dr. Novello said. "New York's teaching hospitals have become more cognizant and realistic about the demands they can place on medical school residents and are successfully meeting the challenges of providing quality health care to patients while ensuring the well-being and productive training of these young doctors."

As part of the State's surveillance of teaching hospitals, Island Peer Review Organization (IPRO) inspectors conduct interviews with residents and other appropriate hospital staff, observe resident working conditions, and review medical records, operating room logs and other documentation to determine each hospital's compliance. IPRO Investigators would also review any complaints reported to the State Health Department regarding resident working hours.

The majority of the violations cited against the 14 hospitals highlighted in the 2004-05 report were related to residents working more than 24 consecutive hours and a failure of the hospital to schedule residents with a period of 24 consecutive hours off from work per week.

New York is the only State in the nation to limit resident work hours. To help strengthen patient safety and quality assurance practices in hospitals statewide, and particularly in New York's teaching hospitals, New York State limits the working hours of physicians enrolled in residency training programs to no more than 80 hours per week, averaged over a four-week period. Each year, there are approximately 15,000 residents enrolled in New York's teaching hospital training programs.

In addition, residents are limited to working no more than 24 consecutive hours in a given day and are required to have one 24 hour period off from work at the hospital. Residents in emergency departments with more than 15,000 unscheduled visits annually are further limited to working no more than 12 consecutive hours without time off.

Governor Pataki's HCRA 2000 legislation increased fines on teaching hospitals for non-compliance of resident working hours. The Department may impose a maximum fine of $6,000 per violation against hospitals cited for resident working hour violations. In subsequent cases, hospitals cited for recurring violations would face a maximum fine of $25,000 for a second offense and $50,000 for a third offense. Prior to HCRA 2000 legislation, the maximum fine was $2,000 per violation.