Posted by John Ager on 12 December 2016.
In the past, I have written about medical research documenting the increased incidence of medical malpractice in hospitals on weekends. While there may not be a study which has examined the same issue during the period from Thanksgiving through the New Year’s holiday, there are plenty of reasons you probably want to avoid going to the hospital during this time.
Health care providers are just as busy and stressed as you are during the holidays. Stress can lead to rushed medicine and bad decisions. That can lead to mistakes. Are you working at the top of your game right now? Medical professionals probably aren’t either.
Patients who have paid their insurance deductibles will try to schedule elective procedures to minimize out of pocket expenses and before any insurance policy changes the next year. Never have these incentives been as strong as they are right now and that means more people seeking medical care and busier health care providers with less time to spend with each patient.
Not only are there more elective procedures at this time of year, but emergency departments and their hospitals can be especially busy. People are more active (i.e hanging lights and falling), taking more risks (i.e. drunk driving and crashing), more stressed (i.e. having more heart attacks) and generally sicker (i.e. the flu). You’ll be competing with these folks to get the care you need.
Health care providers also want to take time off over the holidays just like you. All tolled, this means there are fewer health care professionals, under more stress, treating more patients in less time. Not a good combination.
Finally, those health care providers with the most seniority are the most likely to be on holiday rather than working. That means those with the least experience are left to handle a burgeoning and difficult case load. Some studies have found that residents (student doctors) are responsible for 1/3 of medical errors among physicians. That number is not going to be better during the holidays when there is likely to be less experienced supervision and less supervision in general .
So, the moral of the story is – over the holidays, don’t get sick, don’t get hurt, and don’t get medical care that can wait. Stay safe and Happy Holidays.