Imagine you coach a little league baseball team. Your kids have been playing well all season. They work well together, and they each know how to maximize their individual strengths in their positions. Your team makes it to the season championship.
At the final game, you decide to switch things up. You move the catcher to left field. You make the first baseman pitch. And you bring in five new kids who have never played on your team before. In an instant, months of careful training and strategy are thrown out the window. The final game is a misdirected, uncoordinated effort. Not surprisingly, you lose.
Teaching hospitals function similarly
The above scenario may sound ludicrous. However, it’s an appropriate analogy for what happens each year in teaching hospitals. The summer marks the end of residencies for experienced doctors-in-training. It’s also the time that last year’s medical students begin their first year of residency. For these freshman residents, it’s the first time they’ve ever had to be responsible for patients.
No matter how bright eyed and eager a new resident may be, as with any new job, there’s a learning curve. It takes a while to learn the ropes, and mistakes are common. However, when those mistakes could have an impact on your health, you may want to give a hospital stay in the summer a second thought.
Scheduling non-urgent medical procedures
During the summer months, hospital patients may experience longer procedures and hospital stays – resulting in higher hospital bills. Residents make more surgical errors and prescription dosage mistakes during this time of year. In addition, dozens of studies report an increased patient death rate during the summer – up anywhere from 8% to 34%.
It’s easy to think of a hospital as a stable, well-oiled machine. However, understanding the rotating schedule on which a hospital operates can help you make a smart decision when scheduling your next procedure.