July Effect and Medical Malpractice: A Bad Time for the Doctor? Albany Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Heart Attack Misdiagnosis, Hospitals

The “July Effect” and Medical Malpractice: Is this a Real Thing?  

As an Albany medical malpractice lawyer, I know and have heard of the “July Effect.”  This is the theory that in July there is a higher risk of patients being the victims of medical malpractice, or of passing away in a hospital.  Many people believe it is better to not go to the hospital at all during the month of July to stay alive.  You may even have seen internet “memes” and jokes about the July Effect.

But it is real?

What causes the July Effect?

Is it vacations?

Mid-year fatigue?

The alleged July Effect is a combination of all of those factors.  But it really is when the new flock of medical residents begin.  The old residents complete their residency and become licensed medical professionals; they are the most competent and experienced residents who now are full-fledged doctors.

However, the new class of residents, who were medical students last year, are not treating patients for the very first time.  Yikes!

Coupled with experienced doctors going away on vacation and mid-year fatigue, this is a deadly time of the year—right?

Research is mixed!  Some research indicates yes, hospitals with residents (teachings hospitals) are less effective due to new residents who do not know what they are doing, and the need for additional training and supervision to explain the processes which are going on in the hospital.  This means worse patient care, just as when a new lawyer starts in a law firm the other lawyers must work harder to help training and check.

But the risks in medicine are much more dangerous than in law.  Mistakes here KILL, whereas in law they usually can be fixed.  For instance, in one study the high-risk heart attack patients were studied in July and May at teaching and non-teaching hospitals.  In teaching hospitals, high-risk patients had a greater chance of dying than high-risk patients in May and in non-teaching hospitals.  This indicates that the more complicated and fast-paced issues may be more dangerous and deadly in the hands of less-experienced residents.

There is also a slew of research opposing the July Effect and claiming it is not accurate or true, and it can be mitigated or addressed with heightened oversight.  But this still results in more delays, as the supervisor now needs to do extra work which means more time away from patients.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com.  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.