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Report - July Worst Month for Hospital Errors

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, June 04, 2010 3:58 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Prescription Errors, Teaching Hospitals, Medical Errors

Forget July For Surgeries


IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ doctors circling/ Kovalvs

If you are in need of elective surgery, better skip the month of July.

July is the worst month for fatal medication errors, a new study finds, reinforcing what was thought to be a myth.

Researchers from the University of California at San Diego call it the “July Effect” a time when there appears to be a spike in fatal medication errors at teaching hospitals. The anomaly may be due to an influx of new medical residents, the report finds.

The study looked at 62 million death certificates between 1979 and 2006 finding the medical errors spiked by 10 percent in July. Nonteaching hospitals did not experience the spike.

Moving a decimal point, for example, can make the difference in medication from 2.5 milligrams to 25 milligrams, which could be fatal.

Beware of shift change when critical information may not be passed onto the new personnel on the shift. It is important to have an advocate to look out for your best interest. Experts advise to take notes and pay particular attention to medication and don't be intimidated. Doctors pay particular attention when you ask questions.

Researchers were careful to eliminate deaths that occurred outside of the hospital or allergic reactions to drugs.

The findings are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

A report released in 2008 found that 16-hour shifts are the maximum a resident should work in one day.

A study published last year found the myth about July didn’t hold up and the American Medical News also reports that July is a safe month for surgeries.

HealthGrades, a leading hospital rating organization, found in a study that from 2004 through 2006 there were 238,337 preventable deaths among Medicare patients. That cost the program and ultimately taxpayers $8.8 billion. #

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