SDW news brief: Researchers aim to disprove the July effect

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, September 20, 2012

The so-called “July phenomenon,” in which patients at teaching hospitals supposedly have worse outcomes, does not exist, according to research conducted by physicians at the University of Florida and published in Neurosurgery recently. The concept of the July effect stems from the fact that the graduate medical year begins on July 1, which means medical school graduates begin caring for patients for the first time, while interns and residents take on new responsibilities as well. Researchers analyzed more than 850,000 admission and patient-outcome records for teaching hospitals from the National Inpatient Sample database, and compared the rates of patient deaths and surgical complications in July with those of all other months for data collected between 1998 and 2008. Researchers focused on the field of neurosurgery.

Ultimately, researchers discovered that there was not an increased risk of death or complications at teaching hospitals in July versus other months, and that the results mirrored those at nonteaching hospitals as well. Researchers attribute this to the many layers of supervision for new physicians, which create a safety net and compensate for any lack of experience among the residents.

Source: University of Florida News

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