Medication Errors Peak in July With Arrival of Residents, Study Finds
Fatal medication errors increase by 10% in July -- a month when most hospitals see an influx of new medical residents -- in counties with a large number of teaching hospitals, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, ABC News reports.
Fatal medication errors remained level for all other months and in counties without academic facilities, according to the study.
For the study, researchers from UC-San Diego and colleagues analyzed more than 62 million death certificates from 1979 to 2006. They found 244,388 deaths that could be linked to medication errors in a hospital (Cox, ABC News, 6/3).
Medication errors included accidental drug overdoses, wrong drug administrations and drug-related accidents during medical and surgical procedures, HealthDay reports (HealthDay, 6/3).
David Orentlicher, a physician and law professor at Indiana University, said the increase could be related to residents' inexperience, sleep-deprivation and lack of knowledge about hospital operations (ABC News, 6/3).
However, Joanne Conroy, chief health care officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, said, "July is a hard time" because it often marks the beginning of the fiscal year for many facilities, when there are new pharmacy residents, physician therapists and other providers (Fiore, MedPage Today, 6/3).
The study authors suggested that the findings underscore the need to re-evaluate incoming residents' responsibilities, increase supervision and bolster medication safety education (Hobson, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 6/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.