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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

More patients die with junior doctors

23rd September 2009

A study has found a rise in the number of patients who die each year when junior doctors start work.


The research by a team from Imperial College said the increase was small but statistically significant.

It looked at 300,000 emergency patients admitted to English hospitals between 2000 and 2008 and compared death rates between the first week of August, when newly-qualified doctors arrive, and the previous week in July.

In August, findings show that 6% more patients were likely to die.

Dr Paul Aylin, from the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College, said: "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. It's too early to say what might be causing it."

However, doctors leaders said the study needed to be judged alongside other studies looking at mortality rates before and after junior doctors start their new jobs.

Dr Shree Datta, chair of the junior doctors' committee at the British Medical Association, said these have not shown any differences.

Hugh Williams, of Action Against Medical Accidents, said: "It would be interesting to know how quickly this effect wears off and how different hospitals deal with the intake of junior doctors every August."

The Department of Health said patients should be reassured that junior doctors undergo rigorous training but stressed that local hospitals must ensure that they responsibly manage the introduction of new junior doctors each August.


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