With the summer months approaching, people in need of scheduled surgery or other major medical procedures may be trying to plan around vacations, summer camp, PTO and countless other variables that complicate the process of planning for the upheaval and recovery time that will likely be involved. One factor that may not necessarily occur to patients is how the timing of a procedure, even from one week to the next, may affect the quality of care he or she receives and the risk of adverse outcomes.

The July Effect: Fact or Fiction?

Each year at teaching hospitals across the United States, doctors at various stages of their medical training advance to the next level in July. This means that people who were medical students one week become interns the next, while at the same time interns are promoted to residents and so on up the hierarchical chain of doctors in training. As a result, in July, many medical providers are dealing with new and more challenging responsibilities, for which not all are adequately prepared.

This phenomenon, known is the July Effect, has been linked by some studies to increased rates of preventable medical mistakes, including medication errors, surgical mistakes and a corresponding spike in patient mortality. According to a recent report by Politico Magazine, the death rate at American hospitals jumps between 8 and 34 percent during July, and fatal medication errors surge by 10 percent.

Is July a Riskier Time for Medical Outcomes?

However, not all experts agree that the July Effect is based in fact. A 2013 report by National Public Radio, for example, suggests that concerns about the alleged phenomenon may be overblown, and points to recent research suggesting only a negligible increase in negative outcomes during the month of July.

Either Way, When Egos Win Out, Patients Lose

Whether or not the July Effect is a proven threat to patient safety, it does call attention to the fact that doctors are human and fallible, and that they are capable of making mistakes. Unfortunately, when they do, the consequences are all too often heartbreaking. When doctors of any experience level allow their egos to get the better of them and fail to ask for help when they need it, they put patient’s lives and safety at risk unnecessarily, and they can be held liable for the damage they cause as a result.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical provider in Texas, be sure to talk your situation over with an experienced Houston medical malpractice attorney to learn about the potential for pursuing compensation for the resulting injuries, lost wages, medical costs and other damages. Contact the Hastings Law Firm to arrange a personalized consultation regarding the available legal options for your individual situation.