Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

81 percent fatality rate in hospitals being called 'July effect'

When we know that we are going to be put under anesthesia and undergo surgery, we understand that we are putting our lives in the doctor's hands. We expect them to have respect for that fact, and exercise a duty of care that will keep us safe. What we don't know is that some studies show we could be more at risk for a surgical error in one month as opposed to others.

According to a recent study reported by CNN Health, July is one of the most dangerous months to undergo surgery. The research showed that those who had surgery in July were more than two times more likely to suffer complications than if they had gone in June or August, and have an 81 percent higher risk of suffering a fatal error.

The phenomenon has been coined the 'July effect,' and it may not be a coincidence that it is the same month in which interns first begin their careers. While it is no surprise that with inexperience comes mistake, but some researchers say that it isn't the interns that are making most of the mistakes.

Some medical experts say highly experienced doctors are as likely to make a surgical error as their inexperienced counterpart. So why is that? Those who are inexperienced are more likely to question their decisions, seek the opinion of a doctor or worry about the little things. Experienced doctors may not do the same and overlook the small details.

Other doctors may make serious medical errors based "upon their experience." When the same action, diagnosis or treatment does not have a negative result in repetitive situations, a doctor may assume it is the right course of treatment. But what happens when an individual does not react in the same way? The treatment was "based on their experience," but did they consult with others, do the necessary research or stay abreast of important medical advancements?

Source: CNN Health, "The 'July effect': Why experienced doctors may not deliver the best care," Dr. Zachary F. Meisel and Dr. Jesse M. Pines, July 17, 2012

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