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Study: The 'July effect' may hold for fatal medication errors

Wall Street Journal Health Blog, June 4, 2010

In July, new medical residents arrive at hospitals, and rumor/legend/conventional wisdom holds that the "July effect" produced by those newbies means it's a dangerous month for hospital patients. A study published last year concluded the myth did not hold true at one trauma center. But researchers from the University of California at San Diego and UCLA set out to investigate the phenomenon, and homed in on fatal medication errors inside medical institutions, assuming those are "more likely to be influenced by inexperienced residents than by patients." The authors write that the findings "provide fresh evidence" for rethinking the responsibilities assigned to incoming residents, boosting supervision, and increasing medication safety education.