HEALTH AND SAFETY

» Drug, Devices, and Supplements

» Physician Accountability

» Consumer Product Safety

» Worker Safety

» Health Care Delivery

» Auto and Truck Safety

» Global Access to Medicines

» Infant Formula Marketing

 

Read our outrages

If you're not outraged,
you're not paying attention!


Read what Public Citizen has to say about the biggest blunders and outrageous offenses in the world of public health, published monthly in Health Letter.

Don't Get Sick in July

August 2010

Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D.

For those of you who are planning to go to the hospital for diagnosis or treatment but have not yet gone, breathe more easily, now that July is over.

A study just published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) examined death certificates of 244,000 people who had died in the U.S. between 1979 and 2006 because of medication errors. The authors found that inside medical institutions such as hospitals, in counties containing teaching hospitals, fatal medication errors spiked significantly, over what was expected, by 10 percent in July and in no other month. In contrast, there was no July spike in counties without teaching hospitals. These findings held only for medication errors, not for other causes of death such as surgical errors.

Why is this happening? Each July more than ten thousand new doctors begin medical residencies in teaching hospitals, thereby having more responsibility for treating patients. Although it has been suggested for a long time that these new medical residents may make more mistakes resulting in worse patient outcomes, often referred to as the “July Effect,” there has previously been no U.S. evidence documenting this.

In an accompanying editorial, JGIM Co-Editor Dr. Richard Kravitz wrote:

The accumulated evidence on the “July spike” is probably convincing enough to prompt action: for example, having attendings or senior residents “in house” during extended hours, conducting rounds twice a day (as pediatrics has done for decades), or just making sure adequate help is available at the point of care. Academic general internal medicine doesn’t shut down during the dog days of summer. Our resolve to improve the quality of hospital care shouldn’t shut down either.

We couldn’t agree more!

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.