Be wary of the “July effect” in medical care

Monday July 23, 2012

It is not uncommon in the medical profession to hear the phrase, “Don’t get sick in July.” One of the main reasons is that July is when new interns start their work and when senior trainees, residents and fellows graduate to new supervisory, self managed roles in patient care.

Many doctors, nurses, and other Connecticut medical professionals agree, that July is the month when everyone is the most inexperienced. This lack of experience can also result in doctor error, negligence and medical malpractice.

Experience can influence the quality of care in several ways. Those with more experience in the field can pick up on the subtle symptoms early on in the disease process and intervene to prevent complications. Doctors who have performed similar procedures in the past are also less likely to make a mistake.

While there are some studies that claim the “July effect” is only a myth, showing that July is no more dangerous than other months, others show that July patients do fare worse. One study found that July patients were more than twice as likely to have a surgical complication and 81% more likely to die. There are additional studies that also show that July truly is a more dangerous month, especially in teaching hospitals.

When preparing for a hospital stay or treatment, be aware of the “July effect” and the potential for medical mistakes or errors by inexperienced doctors. If you or someone you love was injured while receiving care at a hospital or emergency room, it is important to have your case investigated by a professional. You may be entitled to compensation if you or someone you love was a victim of medical malpractice, negligence, or error.

Source: CNN, “The ‘July effect’: Why experienced doctors may not deliver the best care,” Dr. Zachary F. Meisel and Dr. Jesse M. Pines, July 17, 2012.

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