HealthDay News — Internal medicine residents spend most of their time participating in indirect patient care, according to research published online April 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Krisda H. Chaiyachati, M.D., M.S.P.H., from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues observed 80 internal medicine residents across 194 shifts for a total of 2,173 hours to calculate time allocation. Within a 24-hour period and in each of four six-hour periods, the mean time spent in direct and indirect patient care, education, rounds, handoffs, and miscellaneous activities was measured.

The researchers found that a mean of 15.9 hours (66 percent) of a 24-hour period was spent in indirect patient care and mainly involved interactions with medical records or documentation (mean, 10.3 hours [43 percent]). Interns spent a mean of 3.0 (13 percent) and 1.8 hours (7 percent) in direct patient care and in education, respectively. Across the four periods of the day, this pattern was consistent. Direct patient care and education often occurred while indirect patient care was being performed. For a mean of 3.8 hours (16 percent) of the day, interns multitasked with two or more indirect patient care activities.

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“Increased multitasking is a side effect of our current system,” Chaiyachati said in a statement. “It’s not simply that we are doing more work or we have more tasks in our day-to-day. We are trying to do more in a fixed amount of time.”

One author disclosed financial ties to VAL Health.

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