Clinical Trial

Intensive Care Unit Resident Scheduling Trial

Study Description

Intensive Care Unit Resident Scheduling Trial

Many patients, doctors and others worry that tired doctors provide worse patient care, may not learn well and become burnt-out. In response to these concerns, some countries changed their laws to limit work-hours for doctors in training ('residents'). In Canada, most residents work six or seven 24-30h shifts each month. A recent Canadian report ordered by Health Canada said that making good decisions about resident work-hour rules was "significantly limited by quality evidence, especially evidence directly attributable to the Canadian context." Creating this evidence is the main goal of this research. The pilot study in 2 intensive care units(ICU) found that shorter shifts may be worse for patients, and for residents were more tiring than expected but improved wellbeing. Learning was not assessed. Previous studies on resident work-hours report similar findings: conflicting effects for patients, benefits for resident wellbeing, inconsistent and under-studied effects on learning. Overall, these results are not conclusive and confirm the need for a larger study. The current study will provide high-quality Canadian evidence. The investigators will compare two common ICU schedules used in Canada: resident shifts of 16h and 24h. ICU patients are very sick, there is little margin for error: they need doctors who know them well and are thinking clearly. The effects of each schedule on patients and residents will be measured. For patients, mortality rates and harm caused by care in ICU will be studied. For resident education, their learning about managing common illnesses in ICU, to do basic ICU procedures, and communicate with families will be studied. For resident wellbeing measures will include sleepiness, other fatigue symptoms, and burnout. Investigators will study both resident and patient outcomes so that Canadians can understand trade-offs linked to changing schedules. With this knowledge, Canadians can expect safer care for today's patients and better-trained doctors for the patients of tomorrow.


Locations Selected Location


No pharmaceutical medication involved No pharmaceutical medication involved
Recruiting patients only Recruiting patients only

16h overnight duty

schedule observed by participating ICUs.

24h overnight duty

schedule observed by participating ICUs.

Handover training

Formal handover training for residents in both interventions. ICUs with a pre-existing standardized handover training and process will be asked to continue handover practices throughout the study. In ICUs without a pre-existing standardized handover training and process, ICU education directors will be provided with materials to include in orientation of residents to the ICU and local training to ICU staff physicians at least once per year.

Additional Information

Official Study Title

Intensive Care Unit Resident Scheduling Trial

Clinical Trial ID


ParticipAid ID