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ACS Resident and Associate Society Comments on Results of the FIRST Trial

The Society representing more than 13,000 surgical trainees believes that flexibility in duty hours is not only safely possible, it is essential to provide surgical residents with exposure to the variety and complexity of educational experiences necessary to become fully trained and competent surgeons.

NEWS FROM THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CHICAGO (February 2, 2016): Today, the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) released the following comments in response to the release of study results from the Flexibility In duty hour Requirements for Surgical Trainees (FIRST) Trial.

The Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS), which represents more than 13,000 surgical trainees, enthusiastically welcomes release of the FIRST Trial results.* These results are what has been needed to inform surgical resident duty hour policy. Up until now, there has not been high-level prospective evidence on this important issue.

The FIRST Trial was conducted with patient safety as a top priority. This point is evidenced by study results showing that patients’ deaths and serious complications within 30 days of an operation were not increased when residents worked a more flexible duty hour schedule. Further, the well-being of residents and quality of their education were key considerations throughout the study period.

Residents working in the flexible duty hour group did not work more hours than those in the standard policy group, who worked with all existing Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) duty hour policies in place: the workweek was limited to 80 hours; one day off in seven was required; and residents could not take call more often than every third night. Residents in the flexible duty group worked more effectively because increased flexibility allows construction of schedules that provide better continuity of care for patients, and minimize patient handoffs.

Based on the Trial’s results, the RAS-ACS firmly believes that flexibility in duty hours is not only safely possible, it is essential to provide surgical residents with exposure to the variety and complexity of educational experiences necessary to become fully trained and competent surgeons.

Flexibility in duty hours allows surgical residents to follow and treat patients across the entire spectrum of care. Further, with surgical training presently upwards of 10 years in duration in some specialties, lack of flexibility in resident duty hours will likely lengthen training.

Overall, the FIRST Trial demonstrates what many surgical trainees across subspecialties have witnessed; flexibility in duty hours does not compromise surgical patients’ safety, but it does improve educational experience and the ability of surgical trainees to care for patients throughout the course of their illness.

The RAS-ACS hopes that these study results will provide an evidence base that will reduce the constraints on the way in which surgical trainees are allowed to train and learn the practice of surgery.

For a copy of the press release reporting on Trial findings, jointly issued by ACS and the American Board of Surgery, contact the ACS Office of Public Information. Contact: pressinqiury@facs.org. Join the conversation on social media: #FIRSTTrialsurgery
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*Trial results published online February 2, on the New England Journal of Medicine website, and presented concurrently at the 2016 Academic Surgical Congress in Jacksonville, Florida.

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About the Resident and Associate Society
The Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) serves to familiarize surgical trainees and young surgeons with College programs and leadership. RAS-ACS provides trainees and young surgeons with an avenue for participation in ACS affairs, fosters development and use of their leadership skills in organized surgery, and provides opportunities for their opinions and concerns as young surgeons and trainees to be heard by College leadership. For more information visit www.facs.org/member-services/ras.

About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 80,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit www.facs.org.

Contact:

Sally Garneski 
312-202-5409
or
Dan Hamilton
312-202-5328
E-mail: pressinquiry@facs.org

 

FIRST Trial News Coverage