Does The “July Effect” Impact Spine Surgery Success?

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 9, 2019

July Effect Spine

The calendar has turned to July, and while it is one of the hottest months of the year in Minnesota, it’s also one of the deadliest in the operating room if you believe in the so-called “July Effect.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the July Effect or July Phenomenon is the perceived increase in the risk of medical errors and surgical complications that occurs in July, the time of year in which medical school graduates in the US begin their residencies.

But is there hard evidence that suggests surgery is riskier in July? Or, do new residents have no impact on the success or failure of surgeries? We answer those questions in today’s blog.

Is The July Effect Real?

While the logic behind the statement may make sense, there’s little hard evidence to support the July phenomenon, especially when it comes to spine surgery. To prove that the July Effect was a myth, researchers decided to take a look at data from nearly 15,000 spine surgeries from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. After comparing the data when looking at resident involvement and surgeries during this time period, here’s what researchers concluded:

“We could not demonstrate that the training of new (or newly promoted) residents is associated with an increase in the adverse events of spine surgery. Safeguards that have been put in place to ensure patient safety during this training period seem to be effective.”

They did go on to say that there was a very small increase in adverse events during this period of the year when residents were involved with surgery, but they said that they believed their presence had very little to do with this increase. Residents are often called to assist larger surgical teams during more complex or riskier operations, so the small increase was attributed to residents working with teams that were performing riskier surgeries as opposed to the resident doing something incorrectly.

So whether you’re heading into surgery with Dr. Sinicropi or at a larger hospital with surgical residents, know that you are just as safe in July as you are in any other month. We work hard to reduce the risk of surgical complications year round, and we’d be happy to walk you through our process.

Congrats to all the new residents who will be starting new programs this month, we know you’re going to make fantastic doctors. But if you want a spine surgeon with decades of experience working directly with you to fix your spine problems, look no further than Dr. Sinicropi. Contact his office today for more information.

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