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Deaths Up, Care Levels Down at Teaching Hospitals in July
Date:7/12/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- The dog days of summer are a perfect time for hitting the beach. But a summer visit to your local teaching hospital?

Perhaps not so much, caution researchers who report that such institutions tend to suffer a dip in efficiency and a spike in patient deaths whenever they undergo the massive medical resident turnover that typically ensues every July.

The observation stems from an analysis of 39 studies that looked at a phenomenon commonly known as the "July Effect." The term refers to the specific time of year when experienced medical residents in training depart their assigned teaching hospital, to be replaced by fresh-faced but less experienced interns.

"Our study is a signal that there is increased risk at this time," noted study author Dr. John Q. Young, associate program director of the residency training program within the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco's School of Medicine. "That's the bottom line, and it's something that patients should be aware of."

"However, at the same time, patients should not delay care because of this concern," Young stressed. "They should always seek the care they need whenever they need it. But I would say that this concern makes it important that patients try to include a family member or a friend in the process. You should bring them with you to the hospital, so they can advocate for you, and not hesitate to ask to speak to the experienced attending physician that will always be there overseeing the team."

Young and his colleagues report their findings in the July 12 online edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

At issue, say the authors, is a longstanding concern over the summer season disruption to a teaching hospital's medical effectiveness that can occur when large groups of well-experienced trainees exit a facility just as "newbie" me
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