ABC7Chicago.com: Match Day for med students under antitrust cloud..... But this year, "Match Day," when tens of thousands of graduating students received assignments to residency programs, arrived under a legal cloud that could revolutionize the matching process as well as how doctors are trained. A federal antitrust lawsuit alleges that the residency matching program contributes to notorious work conditions for medical residents by allowing residency directors to share information about their programs. The set-up, the lawsuit alleges, forces doctors-in-training to accept placements without negotiation. That allows residency programs to conspire to keep salaries low -- often less than $40,000 -- and work-hours long -- often 80 hours or more weekly, the lawsuit alleges.
Well, well, well. This ought to be fascinating to watch unfold.
The medical centers' defense will be, as it has always been, essentially twofold. (1) Residency is an advanced stage of medical education, and as such, hospitals should be allowed a great deal of latitude in setting conditions. (2) This is the way it has always been done, should always be done, forever and ever, amen. The second argument will be ignored by any sensible court, of course. As for the first ... well, you know, I didn't get paid $40,000 a year for my graduate education. And most of the time, there was actual classwork involved. Does it count as that sort of formal education when there's no university involved in the educational didactic sense?
To be honest, I think that the medical centers will lose. They haven't done terribly well in this sort of case historically, and they'll be running up against the desire of most people (including judges) to have doctors working on them who are, you know, actually awake at the time. Most research on sleep deprivation would indicate that the sorts of conditions that residents work under are just ripe for all sorts of disasters; the fact that they don't seem to occur that often is mostly luck. (And it's hard to tell how often they do occur, since most medical errors tend to be minor, on the whole.)Posted by iain at March 21, 2003 01:45 AM