Medical interns are spending less time with patients and more time at a computer since new rules limiting total work hours were instituted in 2011, according to a study published online April 18 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Lauren Block, M.D., M.P.H., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a time motion study of 29 interns on inpatient ward rotations in two internal medicine residency programs in Baltimore in January 2012, for a total of 873 hours.
The researchers found that the interns spent 12 percent of the time in direct patient care (such as bedside rounds, procedures, and family meetings), 64 percent in indirect patient care (such as viewing patient charts, entering orders, handing off care, transporting patients), 15 percent in educational activities (such as non-bedside rounds, conferences, teaching students), and 9 percent on miscellaneous activities (such as eating, sleeping, walking, and recreation). Interns spent 40 percent of their time at a computer.
“Compared with interns in time motion studies prior to 2003, interns in our study spent less time in direct patient care and sleeping, and more time talking with other providers and documenting,” Block and colleagues conclude.