Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Death rates versus junior doctors.... alarming though not surprising

Here's a really interesting though alarming bit of news:

A small but statistically significant number of patients die each year when junior doctors start work in August, an Imperial College London study suggests.

Researchers looked at 300,000 patients admitted as emergencies to English hospitals between 2000 and 2008.They compared death rates between the first week of August, when new doctors arrive, and the previous week in July.After adjusting for various factors, they report in PLoS One that the August patients were 6% more likely to die.The period when an influx of newly qualified doctors enter the wards has sometimes been dubbed the "killing season", but studies to establish whether there is any truth to this have been inconclusive.

The researchers from Imperial College London stressed they were unable to draw firm conclusions about the reasons for the increase, but that it was significant, if small.


This piece of news when taken together with recent concerned postings from young doctors at Singapore M.D. about their apprehensions and lack of preparedness when they graduate.... and more recently about the rush to place them into residency programmes... must however, give us cause for concern. We have no local data, but I cannot imagine that our situation here is any better than that of the UK.

Perhaps the MOH should commission a similar study before embarking on these massive and rapid changes to our system?

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