Medical mistakes mount in hospitals during the summer months

Going to the hospital during the summer months may be a bad idea as medical errors increase starting in June and ending in September. If you are planning an elective procedure, choose a time other than the summer.

What makes summer the most dangerous time for you to be hospitalized?

Human errors rise in the summer for the following reasons.

1. Experienced doctors leave their positions and new residents begin.

2. Nursing and other therapeutic staff members schedule vacations during the summer. This can leave a facility short-staffed, or temporary staff is hired. Though the temporary staff is well-trained in clinical care, they are unfamiliar with the facility. It takes time for them to learn how their skills integrate with the institution’s philosophy of care and the hospital’s policies and procedures.

This is not an urban legend

For a long time, doctors, nurses, medical records staff and others have long suspected the “summer effect” on patient care. However, this belief, while strongly held by many in the health professions, was never proven. Until 2011.

In early July 2011, the New York Times published the results of research that concluded that the summer month of July is the most dangerous time to be admitted to a hospital. The study reviewed major studies done by others that also examined July as being the most dangerous month to be hospitalized. In fact, the study found that hospital death rates increased by 8%.

Dr. John Q. Young, the paper’s lead author, who is also associate program director for the residency training program in psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, commented on the study.

“Those studies also reported longer hospital stays, more drawn-out procedures and higher hospital charges in July, when 20 to 30 percent of the more experienced doctors-in-training leave and a class of newly minted doctors starts working at teaching hospitals”. Dr. Young continued, “this changeover is dramatic, and it affects everything, It’s like a football team in a high-stakes game, and in the middle of that final drive you bring out four or five players who never played in the pros before and don’t know the playbook, and the players that remained get changed to positions they never played before, and they never practiced together. That’s what happens in July.”

With clinical staffs hiring new grads and temporary employees for summer vacation coverage, the lack of knowledge is as debilitating as the 30% turnover rate for residents.

If you were injured during a hospital stay you should speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney so you can protect your rights and possibly enter into a lawsuit against the hospital.

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