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Tired of Long Hours : Residents, Interns Stage UCI Sleep-In

Times Staff Writer

About 20 medical residents and interns staged a “sleep-in” in front of UCI Medical Center on Thursday to protest the long hours--sometimes 36-hour shifts and 100-hour workweeks that have been the traditional regimen of physician training.

“If I can crash a car, I can certainly make mistakes in the operating room,” said Gina Angiola, a third-year resident in obstetrics who joined with 20 other residents and interns in a short protest. Angiola said she fell asleep while driving home after a 36-hour shift in April and smashed into a utility pole in Seal Beach.

Dr. Tom Nelson, an associate dean of the medical school, said he sympathized with the protesters and noted that the institution was moving toward controlling the number of hours they are forced to work.

“An 80-hour week is what we’re working toward and we are already there in all the specialties, except obstetrics and gynecology and surgery,” he said.

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Artificial Caps Called Difficult

Placing artificial caps on the working hours of surgeons is difficult, Nelson said, because they often have to be at the operating table for many hours.

“If a law says they have to leave after a 12-hour shift, it leaves no flexibility,” he said.

Allan Brill, executive director of the California Assn. of Interns and Residents, said California should follow the lead of New York, which this month put regulations into effect that limit a single shift for young doctors to 24 hours and a workweek to 80 hours, averaged over four weeks.

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“The University of California, the California Medical Assn. and the Hospital Assn. do not want this legislation,” Brill said. “Last year they stonewalled it.”


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