July Effect: Is fighting in this month riskier than others?

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Last week, two boxers succumbed to ring injuries.


The unfortunate incidents serve as reminders of boxing's brutality and the vulnerability of the brave combatants who step in the ring.

When a fighter suffers serious injuries in a high-profile bout, it's mainstream news.

What many, even fans of the sport, don't realize is post-fight hospital visits are not uncommon and often go unreported since most injuries are not deemed career or life-threatening.

Broken hands, ribs and noses are quite common and, like brain scans and MRIs that yield normal results, are seldom topics of discussion after the fight.

July Effect
Given post-fight hospital visits are typical for boxers, should fighters and their loved ones take the so-called "July Effect" into consideration when scheduling bouts in the United States?

"Never get sick in July."

Few Americans in the medical arena are unfamiliar with that line.

A Journal of General Internal Medicine study, published in 2010, investigated medical errors from 1979 to 2006 in United States hospitals and found that medication errors increased 10% during the month of July at teaching hospitals (or hospitals with affiliated with a medical school).

Why?

There is no definitive answer and some experts question the validity of the study itself. However, many believe a solid explanation exists for the perceived increase in medical mishaps and hospital deaths in July.

On or around July 1, United States medical school graduates begin residencies. A similar period in the United Kingdom is known as the "killing season."

Hospitals undergo personnel changes and third year medical students migrate from lecture halls and laboratories to the hospital; Fresh graduates start as brand new interns while old interns advance to higher roles; and doctors who've finished their general residency move on to specialty training. 

Do 'new blood' and the aforementioned changes make July hospital visits riskier endeavors?

Multiple studies support and refute this phenomenon. But one thing is certain: July is a time of major transition for teaching hospitals.

Regardless of whether the 'July Effect' is fact or fiction, it would behoove boxers and their loved ones to be a bit more engaged during post-fight hospital visits in July.

As a matter of fact, those in the general U.S. populace who visit the hospital in July should be mindful the physician assigned to them may be making her/his "pro debut."

By no means is inexperience a sign of incompetence. But, as in all walks of life and professions, rookie mistakes happen.

Advice
1. Have your health records ready as well as a list of all medications you're taking and accurate dosages. This should minimize the risk of dangerous drug interactions,

2. Ask questions – or bring along a friend who will. An extra set of eyes and ears to question procedures certainly doesn't hurt.

3. To reduce the possibility of errors or confusion, state your name to anyone and everyone providing you care. (It's easy to confuse Mark Williamson with Mike Williams)

4.Learn the name of the doctor who is ultimately responsible for your care. She/he will likely be an experienced veteran like Vasyl Lomachenko — not a resident or intern making her/his pro debut.


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