Hope You Don’t Get Sick in July

by Staff | July 17th, 2012

In hospitals all over this country July means mistakes as medical students enter residency programs and learn to become doctors.  A 2010 article in the Journal of General Medicine reports that evidence exists that medical mistakes spike in the summer.  We represented a patient who entered the hospital on a Friday night in July and a doctor fresh out of medical school was assigned to his care.  During the weekend the patient’s condition progressed to an irreversible point.  The new doctor confessed later that he did not understand medically what was occurring with the patient and the attending physician did not see the patient until Monday morning.  By that time it was too late to cure the condition.  In a teaching hospital, a new doctor is unavoidable.  The lesson to be learned was that supervision is critical.  No one entering the work force directly from school can be expected to understand all that is occurring in his or her new job setting.  But there is no excuse for leaving the new doctor unsupervised during his first weekend as a doctor.  Better supervision of new doctors may limit the problem and certainly better communication and understanding between experienced nurses and new doctors would go a long way toward addressing the “July Effect.”  No matter what, if you end up in a hospital in the summer, or at anytime, ask questions.  Understand your diagnosis, your treatment options and what to expect.  Bring someone with you.  A second set of ears is invaluable.

Authored by Personal Injury Attorney Ellen M. McCarthy