Mayo Clinic Links Doctor Burnout to Medical Error

New Research Links Doctor Burnout to Medical Error

It’s well known that fatigue makes us more prone to mistakes and lapses in judgment. For those whose decision-making abilities determine the wellbeing of others, this is a potentially catastrophic problem.

A recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings reported that nearly 1 in 3 physicians surveyed experienced fatigue within three months of taking the survey. More than 10% reported that they had committed a major medical error. Doctors who suffered from excessive fatigue were 2 times as likely to say they had committed such an error.

The research indicates that physician burnout could be responsible for more medical errors than unsafe work conditions, which has long been one of the most common reasons attributed to mistakes in a medical setting.

Causes and Consequences of Burnout Among Doctors

There are several reasons that doctors experience burnout in their practice. Chaotic work environments, excessive hours on the job, the inability of a doctor to control his or her own work environment and the safety of a physician’s work unit all contributed to burnout, according to researchers. And of course in recent years, the pandemic has kept hospitals full and lives on the line.

The consequences of this burnout include exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced effectiveness. Patients also suffer from the consequences of doctor fatigue in the form of medical error.

A Systemic Problem in Healthcare

Researchers involved in the study said that the fatigue-related issues facing doctors stem more from systemic problems than individual ones. For example, the workload of doctors, in addition to the administrative duties, are common issues in the U.S. healthcare system and indicate fundamental problems that need to be addressed.

Clearly, burnout in the medical field is bad for everyone. Doctors are feeling the pressure to deliver, and patients can suffer irreparable harm when doctors make mistakes. Research indicates that more than 250,000 deaths result from medical error every year in the U.S. That makes medical error the 3rd leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Understanding Your Options as a Patient

If you believe that your doctor is fatigued, don’t be afraid to say something or to seek medical treatment elsewhere. If you’ve already had the unfortunate experience of being harmed by medical error, you should know that you have legal options available.

For someone who has been injured or made ill during treatment, it’s not always clear why their condition worsened. This is one of the biggest reasons that people turn to medical malpractice attorneys when seeking answers to their questions. An attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding their client’s case to determine who was at fault and what action can be taken.

At CHH, we offer free consultations to help injured patients better understand their options. If you’d like to speak to the exclusively focused Chicagoland medical malpractice attorneys, contact us today to get started.

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