Beware the New Doctors of July

SAN DIEGO, June 2 (UPI) — U.S. researchers link a July spike in hospital death rates to the yearly influx of new medical residents.

Sociology Professor David Phillips of the University of California, San Diego, and his student Gwendolyn Barker determined fatal medication errors peak in July only in counties with teaching hospitals.

The number of July deaths from medication errors was 10 percent higher than the usual number in any other given month of year. No similar link was observed for other causes of death or for deaths outside hospitals.

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, suggests some changes in how residents take on new duties may help reduce both fatal and non-fatal medication errors and the substantial costs associated with such errors.

Phillips and Barkers examined 244,388 U.S. death certificates issued from 1979 to 2006, focusing on fatal medication errors as the recorded primary cause of death. They also looked at whether there were any differences between deaths in and out of hospitals in July as well as between counties with and without teaching hospitals.

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