Concerned that tired doctors can be dangerous doctors, the national advocacy group Public Citizen has petitioned OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, to issue federal regulations limiting the work hours of medical residents.
Stating that the agency has evidence linking overworked, sleep-deprived medical residents to "an increased risk of needle sticks, puncture wounds, lacerations, medical errors and motor vehicle accidents," OSHA says it will "review and consider" the petition.
"It is clear that long work hours can lead to tragic mistakes, endangering workers, patients and the public. All employers must recognize and prevent workplace hazards," said assistant secretary of labor Dr. David Michaels in press release. "That is the law. Hospitals and medical training programs are not exempt from ensuring that their employees' health and safety are protected."
"No worker, whether low-skilled and low-wage, or highly trained, should be injured, or lose his or her life for a paycheck," he added.
Have a happy Labor Day, but avoid emergency rooms. The doctors will be working overtime.