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There is nothing like summer cold to ruin your weekend. However, if you get sick in July, it might pay to try to treat your cold with green tea rather than a visit to the doctor’s office.
Researchers from the University of California at San Diego looked at nearly 30 years of hospital records, finding about 250,000 recorded cases of patients who died following medication errors. These numbers reflect both in-patient and out-patient visits.
For the month of July, researchers David Phillips and Gwendolyn Barker found a 10 percent increase across the board in death by medication error. These deaths were the result of both dosage errors and the prescription of incorrect medication. While other months remained fairly level in terms of medication errors, July stuck out like a sore thumb – and it consistently stuck out.
As it turns out, there is a very good reason July sees a spike in medication errors. At this time, across the country, brand new medical residents leave school and join teaching hospitals. For the first time, these young residents are able to exercise a large amount of control over patient treatment and prescription.
It isn’t that these new doctors are poorly trained. They are just more likely to make errors in the beginning, like new employees in any impression. The difference here, of course, is the amount of control doctors have over the wellbeing of patients.
While a mistake by a new reporter or electrical technician is unlikely to cause any great bodily harm, even the smallest mistake in a medical setting can change lives forever.
Philips and Barker recommend that new residents have a more gradual transition into positions of full autonomy and increased supervision by seasoned doctors.
A little green tea might not hurt either.