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Inexperienced Medical Interns and Residents: Patients Pay a Price

Inexperienced Medical Interns and Residents: Patients Pay a Price

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inexperienced interns and residentsA study published last year confirmed what healthcare workers have long suspected: inexperienced interns and residents cause a high risk of patient death in July. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms the notorious “July effect” in which mortality rates rise and efficiency declines during the summer month as the new class of medical trainees enter teaching hospitals.

Researchers reviewed 39 published studies to determine whether the academic changeover when residents graduate and interns start their training actually affects patient outcomes, as many have suspected for years. They found that mortality rates did increase between 8 and 24 percent in July, according to a Time blog post.

“The ‘July Effect’ occurs when these experienced physicians are replaced by new trainees who have little clinical experience, may be inadequately supervised in their new roles, and do not yet have a working knowledge of the hospital system.
Read more: July effect: New interns ‘perfect storm’ for higher mortality rates –

When I teach experienced registered nurses, they acknowledge that they form part of the safety net under the inexperienced physicians. Nurses have an ethical obligation to speak up and to protect the patient from the actions of physicians that put the patient at risk. While nurses do not always know when an inexperienced physician is making a bad decision, they can often pick up hesitancy, bravado, insecurity, and outright wrong decisions. Nurses work as part of a healthcare team that must function well together to save lives.

In the meantime, I recommend trying to stay out of a teaching hospital in July, unless there are no reasonable alternatives.

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