July is just days away, and that will bring an annual right of passage to your local hospitals: The new crop of interns and recently-graduated nurses will arrive.
Everybody has to start somewhere, and there’s no substitution for practical experience – even for medical providers. Unfortunately, inexperience usually leads to mistakes (no matter what the job).
Should you be worried if you or a loved one has to make a hospital visit in July? Probably. Here’s what to know:
The “July Effect” is very real
Called the “killing season” abroad and, more politely, “the July Effect” in the United States, more than 200 studies have shown that medical mistakes and patient deaths spike anywhere there are doctors-in-training around.
In fact, at least one study indicated that patient deaths in July bump up from an average of 4% to an average of 12%. That’s scary for any patient or their loved ones to contemplate.
You can protect yourself and your loved ones
What if you have no choice about going to the hospital for an emergency or a necessary medical procedure in July? Well, you can take steps to protect yourself or your loved one. Here are some tips:
- Make sure that the patient has someone with them when the doctors do their rounds in the morning. That person can advocate for the patient and make sure that the doctors aren’t making obvious errors.
- Ask for a hospitalist to coordinate the patient’s care, especially if the patient’s condition is complicated or there are a lot of specialists involved. That can keep everybody on the same page.
- Don’t be afraid to call the hospital’s ombudsman’s line. They act as patient advocates and can investigate when there are allegations of substandard care.
When a medical mistake has left your life in shambles or a loved one is seriously injured or killed, you have legal rights. Find out what it takes to pursue a medical malpractice claim.