Background Paediatric trainees have always worked many and long shifts during their education, especially while providing 24/7 continuity of care at theDepartment of Emergency Medicine. It is depicted that longer shifts lead to more medical errors and less patience with colleagues and patients.
This study aims to quantify the effect of reducing working shift duration for paediatric trainees on the number of complaints by parents of paediatric patients.
Methods The study is conducted in the Paediatric Emergency Department (PED) ofa large tertiary hospital. Paediatric residents used to work shifts of over 24 h before, but work was reorganised introducing a rotational working scheme in 2008 reducing shifts to an absolute maximum of 14 h. All complaints filed by parents – either through the PED mailbox or via the Complaints Mediation Service of the hospital – were analysed. Periods before and after introduction of the rotational reduced shift system were compared regarding number of complaints, severity of these complaints, and number of reported verbal or physical aggressions.
Results Between2003 and 2012, more than 150,000 patients presented to the PED. Less than 1% of these contacts led to a complaint. The number of complaints filed by parents still dropped significantly after reducing working shift times for paediatric residents, taking care of these paediatric patients and their parents or caregivers.
Conclusions Reorganising extremely long working times to a rotational system of shifts with reduced working hours significantly reduces the number of complaints filed by parents visiting the Emergency Department with their child.
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