HEALTHY LIVING
07/15/2011 12:48 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2011

Hospital Deaths Increase In July: Study

If you can help it, it might be best to avoid going to the hospital in the month of July.

It was always conventional wisdom among doctors -- since July marks the time when experienced medical residents leave and the newly graduated doctors arrive -- but now a new review of studies shows that patient death rates are actually higher in July than other months.

That's because this change in doctors during July can disrupt the flow of things in hospitals, in the form of more medical errors, surgery complications and wrong dosages of medications, TIME said.

The review of studies, done by researchers from the University of California at San Francisco and published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that patient death rates increase in July between 8 and 34 percent, TIME reported.

Study researcher John Young, associate program director of the UCSF department of psychiatry's residency training program, and his colleagues reviewed 39 studies that included 62 million death certificates that were filed between 1979 and 2006. There were 244,000 medical errors associated with these deaths, CBS Philly reported.

So what, then, should patients do if they need medical treatment in July?

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Patients shouldn’t delay care, but they should be aware," says Young. It's always helpful to have a family member or friend present to serve as an advocate, he says. And "know that every team does have an experienced attending" physician, he says. "You can always ask to speak with that physician."

The concept of July hospital death spikes has been investigated before. Last year, a study of 240,000 hospital deaths from medication errors from 1979 to 2006 showed that death rates in hospitals peaked in July, particularly in regions with teaching hospitals, CNN reported.

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