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10 Queens hospitals cited for overworking residents

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Ten Queens teaching hospitals broke state laws that limit the number of hours medical residents can work when the doctors-in-training sometimes exceeded more than 80 hours a week or were on duty 24 hours in a row, the state Health Department said.

An eight-month study commissioned by the Health Department found that residents at ten of the 11 Queens hospitals that were inspected worked too many hours, violating regulations that were meant to protect patients from dangerously tired resident doctors.

Overall, the study determined that 54 of 82 hospitals inspected statewide, including 30 city hospitals, violated the state’s limits on resident working hours. North Shore University Hospital in Forest Hills was the only Queens hospital in the study that complied with the laws, the Health Department said.

The study, which concluded June 21, was conducted by Island Peer Review Organization, a non-profit health care services company.

The Health Department has already fined New York University Hospital in Manhattan $24,000 for violations and said it may fine other hospitals that overworked residents.

“It is also critical that the residents providing the care to patients receive necessary training and experience under appropriate working conditions,” said state Health Commissioner Antonia Novello, adding that New York is the only state to cap resident work hours.

The limits on resident working hours were set in 1989, five years after 18-year-old Libby Zion died at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. A grand jury found two residents caring for Zion were overworked and unsupervised.

The recent study determined that 34 percent of the inspected hospitals violated state laws by allowing residents to average more than 80 work hours per week. Violations were cited at 56 percent of the hospitals where residents worked more than 24 consecutive hours, the Health Department said.

In other violations, 13 percent of the inspected hospitals did not ensure that residents had hours off between work assignments and 23 percent of the hospitals did not provide residents with one full day off from work each week, the Health Department said.

In Flushing, New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, and New York Flushing Hospital Medical Center violated regulations, the Health Department said. City Hospital Center and St. John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst also were cited for overworking residents.

Jamaica’s Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center were named among the violating facilities too. In Far Rockaway, Peninsula Hospital and St. John’s Episcopal Hospital of South Shore, and in New Hyde Park, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, also broke resident regulations, the Health Department said.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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