The Overhyping of the July Effect and What to Do About It

CIR President Dr. Hemant SindhuCIR President Dr. Hemant Sindhu offers a new perspective on the July Effect, highlighting innovative, resident-driven patient safety and quality improvement projects that are transforming health care. In The Health Care Blog, he writes:

Every year around this time, there is a rash of news coverage and discussion about the “July Effect,” a term used to characterize the increased risk of medical errors as interns begin their residency training and the demands on their supervising residents and attendings increase.

While I believe the July Effect is overhyped (and the literature does not clearly support an increase in errors in July), I am not discounting the fears of patients who worry about being treated by newly-minted physicians.

However, what many people don’t know is that these new resident physicians are actually leading the charge in making sure that patients are safe.

He goes on to cite examples of CIR members leading successful QI projects in several hospitals:

    • In Brooklyn, NY, a resident led effort to report errors or potential errors is a large-scale project in its eighteenth month since implementation and has led to system improvements including the use of bladder scanners to avoid unnecessary urinary catheterizations, which are painful and can lead to infection.
    • At a Queens, NY hospital, CIR members have launched the iListen Movement, a curriculum addressing the critical importance that effective physician communication plays in optimizing patient safety, achieving desired medical outcomes, reducing costs of care and enhancing physician career satisfaction.
    • In Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area, residents are identifying the health impacts of poverty, housing insecurity, and other social determinants of health and connecting patients with resources to address those underlying issues.
    • At Boston Medical Center, an adverse event reporting initiative identified barriers to house staff reporting of adverse events and near misses, thus allowing for the creation of a set of educational interventions that has consistently increased house staff reporting – doubling and tripling it in most departments.

Read Dr. Sindhu’s full article here.