NHS “Killing Season”

June 27, 2012
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Whilst it seems reasonable to expect the same standard of care from hospitals all year round, in reality, there is a particular time of the year when this standard decreases quite dramatically.

This is in August, the time when first-year doctors first embark upon hospital work. Reassuringly, this period has been termed the “Killing Season,”

According to http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/feedarticle/10303095, “people admitted to English hospitals in an emergency on the first Wednesday in August have, on average, a 6% higher mortality rate than those admitted on the previous Wednesday.” In fact, the above mentioned article also reports that “the day newly qualified medical graduates start their jobs has become known as “Black Wednesday”.

Sir Bruce Keogh (the Medical Director of the NHS) has decided that requiring junior doctors to shadow more experienced doctors for at least four days will help combat this so-called “Killing Season.” Furthermore, the Department of Health has said that “Evidence from the pilots suggests that shadowing can reduce the number of serious adverse events.”

In light of the responsibility placed in the hands of doctors, I do wonder if a minimum of four days is adequate. However, hopefully the scheme will set in motion further improvements to the training of junior doctors.

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