Headed to the Hospital? Beware of the ‘July Effect’
July has a bad reputation at hospitals because of the so-called July Effect, which refers to the month recent medical school graduates with little experience begin their residences.
"If you talk to anyone who works in a hospital ... unequivocally they will tell you care is worse in July," Anupam Jena, an internist and assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School
told U.S. News & World Report
. "The interns know less than the physicians who were there two to three months before."
Even small mistakes, says Jena, can result in death for patients who are critically ill. Jena conducted a study of patients admitted to hospitals and found that for every 100 people hospitalized with a severe heart attack, five more people died in July than in May. For less seriously ill patients, Jena says, there is no July Effect.
Emergency rooms at teaching hospitals appear to be hard hit in July. Robert West, professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biology at SUNY Upstate Medical University
in Syracuse, New York, says he's noticed emergency rooms are particularly chaotic in July in comparison to other months. He advises avoiding going to teaching hospitals in July.
According to a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine
, the July Effect is real, but some experts insist it is simply hype, "The overriding evidence is that the degree of problems that arise from [the July Effect] is relatively small," says Kenneth Ludmerer, a professor of medicine and the history of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis
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