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The Link Between Physician Burnout and Medical Errors

The Link Between Physician Burnout and Medical Errors

Physicians have a very demanding job, which involves caring for others and providing critical medical advice for their patients. Sometimes, physicians provide insufficient advice or misdiagnose patients, which can lead to medical malpractice claims. The main cause is physician burnout. A burnout can be defined as a physical or mental collapse that is attributed to overwork and stress.

Recently, a study conducted by Mayo Clinic sought to distinguish the correlation between physician burnout and medical mistakes. 6,695 licensed physicians responded to the survey and, of those 6,695, many of them reported concerning information that indicated signs of burnout that led to a decreased focus on their patients. According to the study, 3,574 (54.3%) of those physicians reported symptoms of burnout, including excessive fatigue, suicidal thoughts or actions, and poor or failing patient safety grade in their primary work area.

Surprisingly, 691 physicians reported a major medical error in the three months leading up to the study. The descriptions of the most recent errors include:

  • Errors in judgment;
  • Misdiagnosis;
  • Technical mistakes during a procedure;
  • Prescription of the wrong drug/dosage;
  • Order of medication/intervention for the wrong patient, among others.

While some of the mistakes offered no effect on patient outcome, others resulted in injuries, ranging from minor to major and temporary to permanent. Some of the mistakes proved to be fatal, allowing for 30 patient deaths during this three-month period.

The study suggests that there is an increased need for a rapid change, which should include “interventions to improve unit-level patient safety infrastructure, as well as system-level interventions combating physician burnout and promoting well-being.” The potential for burnouts to severely affect the medical industry is great. The increased reporting of such burnouts could deter aspiring medical professional from enrolling in medical school. This would contribute to the increasing physician deficit, which is expected to reach 100,000 by 2030.

While physician burnout is detrimental to the physicians themselves, it is also dangerous for their patients. If you or a loved one has been affected by a doctor’s misdiagnosis or other medical error, it is important to contact a skilled New York personal injury and medical malpractice attorney. The experienced attorneys at Goldberg Sager & Associates are knowledgeable in handling all aspects of medical malpractice cases in New York and are dedicated to helping clients achieve the best possible outcome for their case. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Goldberg Sager & Associates at (347) 497-3245 for a free phone consultation or fill out our contact form.

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