Posted On: June 7, 2014 by Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy

Timing of Surgery, Hospital Admission Could Affect Patient Care

clock%20face%20326.jpgPatients, who are due for surgery or hospital treatment during certain times of the month, or even certain days of the week, have a much higher risk of dying. This phenomenon is called the "July Effect" in which patients are much more likely to be exposed to the risk of medical errors in the month of July as interns enter hospitals. A new study confirms that the risk of fatality after surgery is highest in the afternoons, on weekends, and when patients are admitted to a hospital in the month of February.

The study was presented recently at the European Society of Anesthesiology Meeting in Stockholm in Sweden. The researchers analyzed data involving 219,000 patients, who had surgical procedures between 2006 and 2011. They found in the analysis of the data that patients who had surgery in the afternoon, had a 21% higher likelihood of dying, compared to patients who had surgery during other times of the day.

Patients who had surgery on the weekend had a 22% higher likelihood of death, compared to those who had their surgeries on weekdays. February was also a deadly time to go to a hospital for surgery, or for any kind of treatment. Patients who underwent surgeries in February had a 16% greater likelihood of dying, compared to those who underwent surgery during the other months.

Earlier unrelated studies have indicated a higher risk of fatality for patients admitted into the hospital on weekends. This is because many of the top doctors and specialists may be off on weekends, and many hospitals operate with a skeletal staff on weekends. That means a patient may not receive the immediate care that he requires when he is seriously ill, or suffering from a medical emergency. It also means that the patient may not get the kind of specialized care that he needs.

The study only confirms the findings of earlier research in this area. The standard of care in many hospitals differs between weekends and weekdays, and this has been a problem area that many hospitals have not been able to address. One of the ways in which hospital can address lower quality of patient care on weekends than weekdays is to assign more numbers of staff to weekend shifts, instead of the skeletal staff system that is currently in place at many hospitals.

However, it’s far more difficult to understand the cause of the heightened risk when surgeries or hospital admissions take place in the afternoon, or in the month of February. The July Effect is much more easily explained. The July Effect phenomenon is linked to increased number of interns beginning their residencies at hospitals around the country. These are inexperienced interns, and therefore, at a much greater exposure to medical errors that expose patient to fatal injury risks.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP are dedicated to the representation of persons who have been injured due to the negligence of medical professionals, like doctors and nurses across Indiana. If you have suffered due to the negligence of a health care professional, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney at our firm.