The July Effect: “You’re My First Patient Ever!”

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July can be a rather precarious time for patients. Perhaps you have heard this time of year referred to as the “July Effect” in America or even “The Killing Season” in the UK. These rather startling names have come into existence due to the fresh crop of new medical students that begin residency training each year. This is because the impact of certain medical mistakes can be severe and even life-threatening.

There has been a good deal of research to cover this, and yes, it reveals that there is some reason for concern. If you or someone you care about can avoid medical services this month, it might be a good idea, but if going at another time is not an option, it is a good idea to be a bit more alert. Also, keep track of all medical communication just in case anything should go wrong. Chances are that you will be fine, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

What Does the Research Say?

The following statistics may be disputed by some medical staff, but the studies do show that there is reason for concern. We are presenting them to you so you can at least be aware of what is going on in the medical world. Some folks prefer to avoid being a person’s first patient, especially if their condition leaves little room for error.

In a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, UC San Diego researchers David Philips and Gwendolyn Barker reviewed over 62 million computerized death certificates from 1979 to 2006.  From this sample, they compared 244,388 deaths that involved medication errors. Here are their findings:

  • Fatal errors went up in teaching hospitals during this time by 10%
  • Regions with more teaching hospitals saw a larger spike in fatal medical errors during this time while non-teaching hospitals had no particular increase.
  • For more than 30 years, “medication errors are the second-leading cause of accidental death.”

First-Hand Testimonies

An article by the Medical Consultants Network informs us about an opinion piece in The New York Times where an oncology nurse, Theresa Brown, reported that during the “July Effect”, the real experts during this time are more often the seasoned nurses, instead of the newbie doctors. Anthony Youn echoed her statement from the doctor’s perspective when he shared how vital these nurses can be for doctors just beginning their residency. He went so far as to describe them as teachers during this period of time.

Rest Assured

Nobody is perfect, and everyone requires some everyday experience in order to get caught up to speed. Thankfully, statistics also show that after around a month of near trial and error, the numbers of medical errors start to drop and level back out. Furthermore, teaching doctors are improving supervision and education methods all the time. However, if anything bad does happen, a medical error can be extremely damaging and compensation is still necessary. Go here for a lawyer to help guide you through the process if you believe you have been negatively impacted by the “July Effect.”