LETTER- Have no worries at UVA hospital
As a current UVA medical resident, I would like to add a few thoughts in your otherwise thorough cover story, "PR Emergency" [July 20].
First, although the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education work-hour restrictions are an absolute necessity to limit fatigue-related hospital errors, there was very little thought given to how they would ultimately change the hospital environment. People still get sick and end up in the hospital; one cannot simply subtract thousands of manpower hours per month and expect things to run as they did.
Although all U.S. residency programs knew that work-hour limitations were coming, there was no transition period and little time for residency program directors to do the only thing they could to fill the gap: have more residency spots available. Not an easy task considering that the number of medical students nationwide has hardly changed in the past 10 years. Furthermore, funding for residents must be done at the state and institutional level which often takes years to complete.
Secondly, the public as well as the medical community have the misperception that radiologists punch-out at 5pm and are unavailable thereafter. This is plain wrong. At virtually all hospitals– and especially at UVA– several radiologists are in-house 24/7 with multiple levels of on-call backup when needed. All services that are considered essential in addressing after-hours patients' needs are available, which makes radiology no different than surgery, internal medicine, or any other medical service. Some of the comments expressed by residents to the ACGME were inaccurate and ultimately contributed to the hospital's probation.
Lastly, while times have been better, your readers should rest assurred that UVA remains an internationally respected medical center that still attracts people who are among the brightest in their fields. And despite our probationary status, it has no effect on the quality of care one should expect when going to UVA.