cover image Residents


David Ewing Duncan, Duncan. Scribner Book Company, $23 (302pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19709-8

Duncan spent four years observing, and sometimes living among, residents in more than a dozen U.S. hospitals. He saw dosages mixed up, drugs given that shouldn't have been, procedures put off for days because a resident forgot or was too busy, and horrific, life-endangering incidents that might never have occurred with proper supervision. He met overworked, pushed-to-the-edge residents everywhere, many suffering severe sleep deprivation, overwhelmed by a system that uses errors as a training tool and purposely places young physicians with minimal training in complex, intense situations. All those he interviewed spent at least 20% of their time-and often 70%-at such basic tasks as finding clean sheets and starting intravenous drips without backup support. Suicides and suicide attempts were shockingly frequent among residents. Duncan (Hernando de Soto) has written a chilling expose that should be read at all hospitals and medical schools. His proposed reforms, including protected sleep time, hands-on teaching, tighter supervision and caps on the number of hospital admissions, seem eminently sensible. (June)