On July 1, 2009, in Ontario the maximum period of continuous duty that residents were permitted to work was reduced from 28 to 24 hours. We evaluated the effect of regulation on residents in 3 eras: 2 before (2005 and early 2009) and 1 after (late 2009) the duty-hour reduction.
On-call pediatric residents on pediatric medicine rotations prospectively recorded the numbers of patients (assigned and admitted) and the durations of direct patient care, documentation, staff supervision, and education attended. Sleep was measured with actigraphy.
The 51 residents worked 180 duty periods, were assigned a median of 6 (interquartile range: 4 -12) daytime patients and 24 (interquartile range: 19-30) overnight patients. Residents reported spending means of 239 minutes providing direct patient care, 235 minutes documenting, and 243 minutes sleeping and receiving 73 minutes of staff supervision and 52 minutes of education. From early 2009 to after duty-hour reduction, residents provided 47 fewer (19.6%) minutes of direct patient care (P = .056) and received 44 fewer minutes (60.3%) of supervision (P = .0005) but spent similar times documenting, receiving education, and sleeping. In early 2009, residents provided 73 more minutes (30.5%) of direct patient care (P = .0016), spent 63 more minutes (26.8%) documenting, and slept 105 fewer minutes (43.0%) (P = .0062) than in 2005.
After duty-hour reduction in 2009, we found reduced supervision and direct patient care. Comparison of the 2 periods before duty-hour reduction showed less sleep and longer patient contact in early 2009, which suggests that changes occurred without regulation.