Flutterby™! : Avoid hospitals in july

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Avoid hospitals in july

2010-08-26 14:48:47.063226+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

The 'July Effect': Worst Month For Fatal Hospital Errors, Study Finds. From the UCSD news center, similar stories in Scientific American, U.S. News & World Report ,The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Discover Magazine.

The actual paper appears to be A July Spike in Fatal Medication Errors: A Possible Effect of New Medical Residents by David P. Phillips and Gwendolyn E. C. Barker (PDF) (PubMed entry, alt link off a Turner.com server, SpringerLink version)

Inside medical institutions, in counties containing teaching hospitals, fatal medication errors spiked by 10% in July and in no other month [JR = 1.10 (1.06-1.14)]. In contrast, there was no July spike in counties without teaching hospitals. The greater the concentration of teaching hospitals in a region, the greater the July spike (r = .80; P = .005). These findings held only for medication errors, not for other causes of death.

This started out as a blog entry about hospital errors, but it's turned into an article on journalism, because I got there by the Huffington Post embedding an ABC News video, and as I look through these various articles it's pretty clear to me that we'd have been a lot better off if I could find the original UCSD press release rather than the various people writing Google fodder articles based on articles based on it.

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-08-26 16:07:49.071226+00 by: ebradway

I wonder if there is a connection between the 'July Effect' and the wives-tale that Summer colds are always the worst.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-08-26 17:50:31.211226+00 by: m [edit history]

Well known. Used to joke about this 40 years ago with my ex who was hospital based. It was great fun until we realized that our first born was due to deliver in July. Its not just Residents. Interns and student nurses have little decision making capacity, but they have their impact as well. So there are likely a series of smaller problem peaks throughout the year when they get rotated through the various services.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-08-26 20:04:20.951226+00 by: petronius

This is like the old saw about not buying a car made on a Monday. Also, I particularly hate when you see some summary of an article that runs 30 paragraphs and 290 comments in Huffpo, say, and when you finally track down the original its a 3 paragraph sidebar item from Reuters.