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Researchers Confirm July Effect: Increase in Medication Errors

Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers and doctors have not exactly been unaware of the fact that hospital errors spike substantially in the month of July. There is even a name for this phenomenon, and it’s called the July Effect.

Studies conducted earlier have shown a substantial increase in medication errors in the month of July, but there have been no conclusive results from these studies until very recently. However, doctors have always believed that this increase is because of inexperienced new medical residents, who turn up at hospitals in July. A new study now confirms this.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have found a spike of 10% in the number of medication error-linked deaths in hospitals during the month of July, compared to the average number of error-related deaths for the remaining 11 months, which remained more or less constant. The researchers found that these deaths were linked specifically to medication errors. There was no other corresponding spike in deaths caused by other kinds of hospital errors during this month. This increase in errors was not seen in non-teaching hospitals either. Therefore, it is safe to assume that the spike in deaths in July is not a summertime phenomenon.

The researchers also found that the risk of errors increased during a shift change, when doctors rotated shifts. That’s because of a failure to properly transmit information vital to patient care, to the new doctor taking care of the patient. This lack of communication is one of the most common causes of medical malpractice in Georgia.

If you have to be admitted to a teaching hospital (such as Emory or Crawford Long) in the month of July, make sure you take a patient advocate along. The patient advocate must pay specific attention to the kind of medications you need. As an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney, I would also encourage Georgia patients to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the lower your chances of suffering a medication error-related injury. While most residents have nothing but the best intentions, the practice of hospitals working them in long shifts with little time off and little sleep while on a shift, leaves them ill-equipped at times to properly coordinate care or to communicate timely and effectively with the other medical care providers.

Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.