Robert A. Solomon, P.C.
Two Offices Serving New York & New Jersey

Does doctor burnout cause medical errors?

We all tend to get anxious when we visit the doctor. Whether it is a routine checkup, a visit to diagnose an ailment or a scheduled or emergency procedure, patients in New Jersey and elsewhere are often fearful of many "what-ifs." What if the doctor finds something wrong, what if I am diagnosed with a serious illness, what if I go through the wrong treatment plan, what if something goes wrong during surgery and what if the doctor missed something? These may be common concerns. However, there are some situations that patients should not be worried about, and that is the doctor being negligent. Unfortunately, medical mistakes and errors could occur, with negligence being the cause.

Doctors, like everyone else, are humans. They are subject to human errors like anyone else. However, it is expected that these errors are reduced to the bare minimum due to their education and training. Unfortunately, doctors work long hours, causing them to be overworked at some times. Overworked or not, these medical professionals are still expected to do their job.

Does doctor burnout cause medical errors? A current study explored whether there was a relation to physician burnout, fatigue and work unit safety grades and medical errors. These three categories were independently assessed, and it was found each of them were associated with major medical errors.

The data for this study was collected through a survey. Physicians in active practice were asked questions about burnout, fatigue, suicidal ideation, work unit safety grade and recent medical errors. Based on these results, it was found that roughly 54 percent reported symptoms of burnout, around 33 percent reported excessive fatigue and about 10 percent reported a major medical error in the prior three months.

When a medical provider is not taking care of themselves with regards to being well-rested and not getting overworked, this could put a patient in harm's way. Patients harmed by a negligent doctor should take the time to understand their rights and options. Filing a medical malpractice action could help a patient hold a negligent medical professional accountable while also helping them recover damages for any losses suffered.

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