Jun 24, 2016

Medical July Affect

This documented phenomenon is known as the July Effect: when all the almost-docs get to swap their med school scrubs for white coats and stethoscopes, hospitals are temporarily at higher risk of the sort of silly slip-ups and errors, as well as making hospitals the third leading killer of Americans each year.

The coincidence of med school graduations in the month has been directly linked to a ten percent spike in hospital errors, involving everything from mixing up medications to not knowing how to work a defibrillator. Experts agree that, if at all possible, it is best to avoid hospitals throughout the summer.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego investigated more than 62 million US death certificates between 1979 and 2006. Of those, 244,388 deaths were caused by medication errors in hospitals.

Month to month, the statistics showed a relatively equal chance for a fatal medication error, except at teaching hospitals in the month of July. The study found that fatal medication errors spiked by ten percent in July in counties with a high number of teaching hospitals, but stayed the same in areas without teaching hospitals. The findings appear in a recent issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in US.

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