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U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Bolsters Argument of Worker Protections for Resident Physicians

Statement of Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling Tuesday upholding the IRS'
determination that resident physicians are workers - not students - and
thus should pay Social Security taxes further bolsters the case that
residents should also have other protections afforded to workers. This
includes a good night's sleep.

Public Citizen, as part of the Wake Up Doctor coalition, petitioned
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in September to
regulate the hours that resident physicians work, urging the agency to
cut shifts from as long as 30 hours three times a week to a maximum of
16 hours per shift. Exhausted resident physicians are at increased risk
of being in a car crash and suffering from depression, pregnancy
complications and needle sticks - not to mention the susceptibility to
medical errors, which can adversely affect patients, research shows.

We hope that the court's ruling in Mayo Foundation for Medical
Education and Research v. United States is a sign of progress to come in
the rights of resident physicians to protections that other workers
currently have.

To learn more about the OSHA petition, visit:

To read the full OSHA petition, visit:

To learn more about the Wake Up Doctor coalition, visit:


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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