, Volume 154, Issue 10, pp 1935-1940
Date: 12 Jun 2012

New shift models for doctors in a large German University Neurosurgery Department: how they comply with the European Working Time Directive 3 years after implementation

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Due to the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) and a new collective agreement for doctors working at University hospitals in 2006 new shift models had to be designed in the Department of Neurosurgery of the University Hospital Tübingen, Germany. The aim of the study was to show the fit of the models regarding the average weekly working time limits (aWTL), the daily maximum of 10-h working time (10-h dWT), and the staff expenditures 3 years after implementation.


The new shift model was implemented in 2008, and hence planning and documentation were done electronically. Adherence to the work schedules was measured, and aWTL adherence rates were compared. The relative number of 10-h dWT violations in 2009 and 2010 was analysed. Staff costs relative to performance before and after implementation were calculated and tested using analysis of variance (ANOVA). Four other departments without alteration of shift models served as a control group in cost trend analysis.


In 2010 all doctors in the Department of Neurosurgery were able to stay within the limit of 54 h/week; one doctor without opt-out exceeded the 48 h/week limit (50.1 h/week). The median per capita rate of 10-h dWT violations in 2009 was 20.3 % of all eligible working days and further declined to 10.7 % in 2010 (p < 0.001). Staff costs per case-weight point did not change significantly (2007: 339.88€, 2009: 307.99€, 2010: 322.54€; p = 0.22) in neurosurgery or in the control group (2007: 633.72€, 2009: 637.06€, 2010: 690.30€; p = 0.67).


After implementation of the new shift model, current monitoring and properly matching modifications led to long-term stability in complying with the EWTD regulations without increasing costs for staff expenditures.