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Understanding the “July Effect”

It’s no coincidence that July is National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month. July is a particularly dangerous month for patients in teaching hospitals around the U.S. In academic medicine, July is the month where new students and trainees start practicing on patients. This translates into a higher margin of human error and greater risk for malpractice and poor patient health outcomes during the month of July. In fact, a Johns Hopkins study found medical malpractice to be the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

Learn more about the “July Effect” to better protect yourself from medical errors as a patient in San Jose.

Is the July Effect Documented Statistically?

In July, teaching hospitals and academic medical centers in America turn over staff members. Experienced residents graduate and advance stations. Newer, less-experienced medical school graduates replace them. The July Effect is more than just a superstition or an assumption: it is a real phenomenon with scientific studies and facts supporting its authenticity. Although more than 20 years of research (focusing on surgical outcomes) have not confirmed a conclusive relationship, studies have revealed the following patterns:

While it is true that many studies of the July Effect have involved small sample sizes and other limitations, a systematic review of data shows that studies with higher-quality designs are the same ones that find increased mortality rates and decreased efficiency during July residency changes. The actual correlation between residency transitions and higher risk of patient harm might remain unknown, but there is enough evidence to warrant extra caution in patients of teaching hospitals during July.

Injured at a Hospital During July? Learn Your Rights

There is a very real possibility the July Effect does in fact exist, and does increase the risk of patient injuries, illnesses, and deaths. If you or a loved one suffered injury, illness, infection, health complications, poor health outcomes, or wrongful death at a teaching hospital in San Jose during the month of July or the academic first quarter, consult with a medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer can investigate the situation and help you determine whether or not the student adhered to the accepted standards of care in the medical industry.

Medical malpractice can occur at any time of the year, at any hospital. Inexperienced, untrained, and incompetent student physicians taking over for seasoned residents in July, however, might increase the risk of malpractice and patient harm during this month. Be extra vigilant about protecting your rights as a patient this July in San Jose.