Be Wary of the July Effect at Local Seattle Hospitals

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on August 18, 2016

The July Effect, also known as the Killing Season, is a colloquial phrase that refers to the increased risk of injury and death caused by medical malpractice at hospitals during the month of July. This theory is largely attributed to the seasonal hiring of new hospital residents with little to no hospital experience.

In the United States, after a medical school student graduates, they apply to be a resident at a hospital, clinic, or surgery center. This process is known as matching in the medical community. The matching process occurs at the same time each year. The graduates then begin their residencies in hospitals across the United States during the month of July. This includes hospitals in the Seattle, Washington region, including University of Washington Medical Center, Swedish Medical Centers in First Hill and Cherry Hill, and Virginia Mason Medical Center. So is the July Effect real or is it simply a kooky theory?

Medical Study Finds that Teaching Hospitals Experience a 10% Increase in Malpractice during July

Teaching hospitals are hospitals that accept recent graduates as residents with the goal of teaching them to become skilled and experienced physicians. A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that the July Effect was very real at these teaching hospitals. In fact, medical malpractice claims increased by a whopping 10% in the month of July for every year from 1979 to 2006. Another study published in the Journal of Trauma found an increased risk of preventable errors in the month of July at hospitals. A study published in the Annals of Surgery found a significant increase in postsurgical deaths during the summers when residents began their training.

While some studies did not find any discernible difference in the number of medical malpractice claims and no study was able to specifically pinpoint residents as the cause, the number of studies that did detect a high increase in malpractice in the month of July, including errors causing death, paint an alarming picture.

According to an interview with various residents and professors, the July Effect is a cause for concern. While the “everyday patient” will largely be unaffected by a small error, this same small error can cost a sensitive or severely ill patient his or her life.

Consult with Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Today if You Were the Victim of Medical Malpractice

Whether you were injured by a resident or physician, in the month of July or any other time of the year, you have a right to pursue compensation for the injuries caused by medical malpractice. To schedule a free consultation at our Seattle office, call us at (888) 228-3860

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