Background The 2011 US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) mandates reaffirm the need to design residency schedules to augment patient safety and minimise resident fatigue. Objectives To evaluate which elements of the residency schedule were associated with resident burnout and fatigue and whether resident burnout and fatigue were associated with lower perceived quality of patient care. Methods A cross-sectional survey of first-year medicine residents at three hospitals in May-June 2011 assessed residency schedule characteristics, including hours worked, adherence to 2003 work-hour regulations, burnout and fatigue, trainee-reported quality of care and medical errors. Results Response rate was 55/76 (72%). Forty-two of the 55 respondents (76%) met criteria for burnout and 28/55 (51%) for fatigue. After adjustment for age, gender and residency programme, an overnight call was associated with higher burnout and fatigue scores. Adherence to the 80 h working week, number of days off and leaving on time were not associated with burnout or fatigue. Residents with high burnout scores were more likely to report making errors due to excessive workload and fewer reported that the quality of care provided was satisfactory. Conclusions Burnout and fatigue were prevalent among residents in this study and associated with undesirable personal and perceived patient-care outcomes. Being on a rotation with at least 24 h of overnight call was associated with higher burnout and fatigue scores, but adherence to the 2003 ACGME work-hour requirements, including the 80 h working week, leaving on time at the end of shifts and number of days off in the previous month, was not. Residency schedule redesign should include efforts to reduce characteristics that are associated with burnout and fatigue.
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