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The European Working Time Directive: effect on education and clinical care

Waurick, René; Weber, Thomas; Bröking, Katrin; Van Aken, Hugo

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: December 2007 - Volume 20 - Issue 6 - p 576–579
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e3282f0ef61
Technology, education and training: Edited by Albert Perrino
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Purpose of the review In 2009 the European Working Time Directive limits the weekly working hours to an average of 48 in all European Union member states. The recent published effects on education and patient care are discussed.

Recent findings In European Union member states with traditional long working hours for hospital doctors the reduced working hours led to a decrease in trainee case loads. A negative effect on patients care is only suspected, but not yet measured. In particular, British anesthetists started a discussion about the required changes in training and assessment to counterbalance the lack of practice. European Surgical Disciplines demand for 48 h working time and 12 h teaching and education time per week for trainees. So far many member states have delayed the implementation of European laws in national laws.

Summary There are less measured clinical facts than political statements published. The actual working time directives in the European Union member states are inconsistent and further political development on this topic across the European Union remains unclear.

Klinik und Poliklinik für Anästhesiologie und operative Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Münster, Germany

Correspondence to Dr med. R. Waurick, Klinik und Poliklinik für Anästhesiologie und operative Intensivmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Münster, Albert-Schweitzer-Strasse 33, 48149 Münster, Germany Tel: +49 251 8347255; e-mail: waurick@uni-muenster.de

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.