The Long Hours For Residents
The very first episode of Grey’s Anatomy aired on March 27, 2005. While nearly 20 years ago one might assume this would be different compared to today, that is not the case. During the show, surgeon Miranda Bailey tells the new residents that their shift begins now and will last for 48 hours. Even stating to them: “You run laps, write orders, work every second night until you drop, and don’t complain!” While doctors and even surgeons are known for working pretty long hours, this is not as much as shows like this claim. Yes, residents will work overnight shifts and pretty long hours overall. However, this number is now capped at 80 hours per week.
The reason for this is the Libby Zion Law. In 1989, 18-year-old Libby Zion passed away unexpectedly shortly after she was admitted to the emergency room. Her death was heavily attributed to the fact that she was only being seen by medical residents. They were getting very little supervision and were seeing several patients at one time. It is possible some residents go slightly over the 80-hour cap during the week, but never by much. It is also very rare that residents or even full-fledged doctors will ever work a solid 48-hour shift. Although, it’s not unheard of to see residents working 18 to 24-hour shifts, but an entire 2-day shift? Nope!