21 January 2011

Supreme Court Rules on Medical Residents

The medical profession has been dealt another blow to their ego's. In addition to OSHA proposing limits on doctors' hours of work, especially interns, the Supreme Court has now ruled that interns are workers and not students. This means that federal withholding for FICA and Medicare must be filed and matched by the hospitals and other medical training facilities.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, similar to other institutions with residency programs, began paying their share of the tax in 2005, but then separately sued the federal government to recover the money. This decision makes them eligible for the benefits of the Social Security Administration.

This now makes OSHA's intervention easier and will limit the hours interns and doctors will be able to work. At least this still allows for salaries instead of hourly wages for which overtime would play a part. There are other side issues at the heart of this decision which interns will not be subjected to and protects interns. This decision will create greater expenses to be covered by patients or taxpayers.

I repeat myself, but I believe the hazing part of intern learning has been blunted and the real world finally available for the interns. They will be able to learn in a more conducive environment and hopefully the OSHA regulation will ease the hours of work and make them hopefully better interns.

Is this the end? I doubt it as the Medical community still wants their hazing due and will be looking for other ways make interns pay their dues. Read the medscape article here and the New England Journal of Medicine article here.

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