Intended for healthcare professionals


The killing season—fact or fiction?

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 24 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1690
  1. Paul Aylin, senior registrar in public health medicine Department of Public Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0REa,
  2. F Azeem Majeed, lecturer in public health medicinea
  1. a Department of Health Statistics, Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, London WC2B 6JB
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Aylin.

    You come out of medical school knowing bugger all—no wonder August is the killing season. We all kill a few patients while we're learning.1

    In making the above statement, one of the principal characters in the controversial BBC television series Cardiac Arrest suggests that hospital patients are at increased risk of dying during the early days of August, when newly qualified docors start as house officers for the first time. The belief that hospital patients are at increased risk of dying during this period because of the inexperience of the doctors looking after them is fairly widespread and has led to the first week of August being dubbed the “killing season.” In view of the increased emphasis on the …

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