American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ACS Comments on IOM Report on Resident Duty Hours


CHICAGO (December 3, 2008): The American College of Surgeons (ACS) today recognized the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for its committee report on resident duty hours that was released on December 2, 2008, by the IOM Committee on Optimizing Graduate Medical Trainee (Resident) Hours and Work Schedules to Improve Patient Safety.

ACS agrees with the IOM in its conclusion that further reductions in the mandated 80-hour work week (averaged over four weeks) are not advisable. The ACS firmly believes that these work hours are important to provide surgical residents with the depth and variety of educational experiences that are essential for physicians to become competent surgeons. However, the College is concerned that the IOM recommendation regarding 16-hour shifts could compromise the education of the residents and possibly affect the continuity of patient care that is essential to ensuring that all surgical patients receive safe, effective, and high-quality care before, during, and after surgical procedures. Thoughtful consideration must be given to all of the factors that have an impact on the surgical patient throughout the surgical experience.

In addition, the ACS is concerned that moving to a 16-hour shift structure and lessening each resident's work load could exacerbate an already looming and serious surgeon shortage in the United States. While the ACS concurs with the IOM recommendation that additional staff be hired in order to ensure patient safety, serious attention should be paid to current workforce challenges in addition to those possibly created by the IOM recommendations.

Read the full ACS statement to the IOM online

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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 79,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit


Sally Garneski 

Barb Hemberger