Is the July Effect an Urban Legend?

July 29th, 2013 2 Min read Is the July Effect an Urban Legend? Blog
Should you be wary of the July effect?As the height of summer passes, so should any worries about the "July Effect" causing undue harm to your loved ones being admitted for routine surgeries. In case you're not aware, this phenomenon occurs when medical school graduates begin their residencies, kicking off a period of increased medical errors and surgical complications at teaching hospitals. It's an age-old myth, but does anyone take it seriously? Even in recent years, trusted news sources such as CNN, ABC, the Huffington Post, USA Weekend and even AARP have warned readers to beware of the July turnover of hospital personnel. But they usually add a disclaimer that they aren't trying to scare sick people into staying home when they need to seek medical help. The medical establishment is understandably concerned about whether this July effect is real and what could be done about it. The results of numerous studies have been negative or inconclusive for most work done in hospitals. This has led to a countervailing view in medical journals and trades such as Medscape Today, Mayo Clinic, American College of Surgeons, and Journal of General Internal Medicine to discount the effect, saying it's largely overblown, though not entirely discounted. The most significant July spike presently observed is a 10 percent increase in medical prescription errors. Nevertheless, the perceived phenomenon arose for historical reasons, but the general consensus among the medical community is that it's less of a problem today because of better control and monitoring of hospital practices. Most teaching hospitals will attest that residents are closely supervised during their training and are not, in fact, allowed to perform surgeries solo or hand out prescriptions willy-nilly. But the question still remains: Are there adequate safety measures in place to finally put an end to the July Effect? What else can be done to ensure a consistent level of care during this transitional time? Readers, please weigh in.