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Are some months riskier than others to seek medical care?

In 2011, the Journal of General Internal Medicine published their findings on the frequency of medical errors, and found that the month of July looked especially interesting. This month had 10 percent more teaching hospital deaths than other months due to medical errors. Doctors that heard about the findings weren't surprised. It fact the medical community has a name for the increased error rate that comes in July. They call it "The July Effect."

"The July Effect"

Since most medical school students graduate in June, it is July when they begin their internships and residency. They're eager to start their careers, but their inexperience makes it difficult to make quick and informed decisions in the hospital. One doctor told of his personal experience with the phenomenon. In order to prevent himself from making errors during his first days he carried around a variety of notes and pamphlets to review whenever he had the opportunity. Even with them he had a close call with a cardiac patient, and he credits an alert nurse with catching what may have been a fatal mistake.

Be Prepared for Inexperience

The medical field is not an easy one to go into, and doctors and other medical professionals deserve a lot of credit for the work they do -- even those who are new at their jobs. While respecting medical staff is important, patients are advised to pay special attention when their attending physician doesn't seem to have a lot of experience on the job. Some even recommend holding off on scheduling major medical procedures in July in order to reduce the likelihood of an error occurring.

If you do seek medical care in July, don't be afraid to ask questions about why certain decisions are being made regarding your care. That may mean that you ask a more experienced nurse to verify that the doctor's choice makes sense, or suggest that the doctor double checks their own diagnosis or spends more time considering possible treatments or procedures.

When Precautions Fail

Regardless of the time of year, or the precautions you take to try to ensure that your health care is the best it can be, it is still possible that medical errors that result in injury will happen. If you suspect something has gone wrong, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help you get the settlement you need to move forward.

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