Do medical errors increase during summer months?


Popular wisdom is an interesting thing–it tends to be based on observation rather than scientific testing. But, interestingly, in many cases, once experiments are run to test the truth of a particular hypothesis, it turns out to be true.

Such is the case with the longstanding, but unsubstantiated belief that medical errors increase in July. This theory is based in large part on the influx of new medical residents, fresh out of medical school. And, it makes sense, since residents are doctors in training and first year residents have minimal experience handling their own cases. It takes time–and experience–to become a good doctor. It stands to reason that inexperienced doctors are more likely to make mistakes and first year residents are the most inexperienced doctors out there.

Until recently, the belief that medical errors spiked mid-summer occurred was simply a theory. However, as recently reported in a New York Times article, a new study substantiates what is commonly referred to as the “July effect.” As explained in the article, the study confirms the long held belief that July isn’t exactly the best month to be hospitalized...

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