Hospital Mortality Following the Junior Doctor Changeover in August


Junior doctors examining a patient

The effect of the junior doctor changeover in August shows a small but statistically significant increase in the number of patients who die each year.

The Dr Foster Unit has carried out a follow-up analysis re-examining the previous killing season paper (including more recent data) on the effect of the junior doctor changeover in August. In their paper, published in PLOS one, 'Early In-Hospital Mortality following Trainee Doctors' First Day at Work', researchers found the odds of death for patients admitted on the first Wednesday in August was 6% higher (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.13, p=0.05) after controlling for year, gender, age, socio-economic deprivation and co-morbidity.

While the increase in mortality is statistically significant, overall the rate is small. 

"Our study does not mean that people should avoid going into hospital that week. This is a relatively small difference in mortality rates, and the numbers of excess deaths are very low," said Dr Paul Aylin, from the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College.

Causes for the increase could possibly be the changeover of staff, but further research was needed to confirm the potential reasons.


Sherry Morris

Sherry Morris
School of Public Health

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