For years, there has been a myth that the number of medical mistakes increases during July, when new medical trainees begin working in hospitals. However, until recently, there was little research or information to support that idea. Many people considered the so-called “July effect” to be little more than a wives’ tale.
However, an article that was recently published in the New York Times shows that there may be more to the medical malpractice superstition than many people thought. According to a new study, the death rate in hospitals increases during July. In addition, the hospital stays of many patients is longer in July than it is during the other months.
Although other studies have been attempted, none of the other studies have been as large. The most recent study was also recorded as being the first systemic review of the data that was already collected during earlier studies.
When the data was reviewed, numerous inconsistencies were revealed. However, the data that was produced by the largest and most well-designed studies confirmed the superstition.
According to the studies, the death rate in teaching hospitals increases by 8 percent in July.
During July, between 20 and 30 percent of the experienced doctors-in-training leave the hospitals where they were working, and a class of newly-trained doctors starts at the hospitals. The lead doctor and author of the study said the change is dramatic and that it affects everything.
He compared hospitals in July to a football team during a high-stakes game: “In the middle of that final drive you bring out four or five player 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.”
Source: New York Times, “Risks: Perhaps July’s Reputation is Justified,” Roni Caryn Rabin, 11 July 2011