Lamson, Dugan and Murray, LLP, Attorneys at Law

August Reflections on the “July Effect”

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thumbnailNow that we are safely in mid August, I feel comfortable addressing the so called “July effect” without causing a mass exodus of hospital patients from their hospital beds.  What is the July effect you ask?  It’s the alleged rise in medical mistakes that coincidentally (or not) coincides with the increase of new medical residents at teaching hospitals starting July 1.

While there is some research that mortality rates increase in July, opinions are mixed as to whether this rise can be attributed to the influx of first time residents.  Although a review of the research from 2011 showed the mortality rate rising in July, the research did not account for July being a more active month for patients.  In addition, the research included data from before the federal government’s limitation of resident work hours.

Even so, experts suggest close supervision and better collaboration between nurses, senior residents, fellows and attending physicians as residents transition from student to doctor.  As pointed out by Theresa Brown, an oncology nurse writing for the New York Times, nurses are a valuable resource to physicians that are often overlooked.  The value of a team approach cannot be overstated – especially in July.

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