Are Hospitals Most Dangerous In July?

CNN posed the question yesterday citing a recent University of California study which found that there’s a 10% increase in deaths from medication errors in hospitals in July. While not drawing a definitive conclusion, CNN noted that July is also the month when medical school students become residents in hospitals.
According to CNN, researchers from the University of California study examined 240,000 death certificates from 1979 to 2006 and found a consistent spike in the number of deaths each July. The spike was most significant in counties which have teaching hospitals.
“No one has been able to suggest anything else besides the appearance of new medical residents. That’s the first month they start their new jobs and have expanded autonomy,” says David Phillips, a professor of sociology and lead author of the study. He says although it’s possible that the increase can be linked to administrative or other events specific to July, the most notable link is the start of new medical residents.
The connection between the July influx of residents and the increase in deaths is controversial and not everyone agrees with it.
Regardless of the reason for the spike in deaths, every patient needs to be proactive about health issues, especially when hospitalized. The following are a few tips everyone should keep in mind when entering the hospital:
1) Ask questions
2) Don’t assume the medication you’re receiving is correct, ask and check
3) If you’re not satisfied with your level of care, ask to speak with a supervisor or an attending physician
You have to take responsibility for your own health. Be an advocate and be safe!