A study published in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine found evidence that July is indeed the most dangerous month to be treated at teaching hospitals, verifying the existence of the “July Effect.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 39 previous studies. Based on the best-quality studies, they found that patient deaths increase by 8 percent in July in comparison to other months. The study report also said that patients experience longer hospitals stays, longer procedures and higher bills for treatment in July.
The proffered reason for the greater risk of medical errors in July is the influx of new medical residents – doctors in training – and the exodus of the most experienced residents. The study report’s lead author, Dr. John Q. Young, associate program director for the residency training program in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, stated that 20 to 30 percent of more-experienced residents leave and brand new doctors begin in July, increasing the likelihood of medical errors andmedical malpractice.
Of the resident shift in July, Dr. Young said it is like changing players in the middle of a high-stakes football game, bringing out new players “who never played in the pros before and don’t know the playbook, and the players that remained get changed to positions they never played before, and they never practiced together.”
If this sounds pretty scary, patients should know they can request that a senior resident be present for any treatment they receive from a first-year resident. The American Hospital Association also states that patients have the right to ask if the doctor performing the procedure has recently started training.
Medical Malpractice + Patient Safety