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Doctor Burnout Leading to More Medical Mistakes

Chicago medical malpractice attorneyDoes your doctor seem tired, cynical and stressed out? If yes, your physician's burnout could be a danger to patients.

If you think doctor burnout is rare, think again. A survey of clinic and hospital physicians across the United States reveals that more than half of U.S. doctors experience burnout, according to Mayo Clinic Proceedings report. In other words, they admitted to having symptoms such as fatigue, depression and suicidal thoughts, which are indicators of burnout.

Workplace burnout occurs across many occupations. But when it happens to doctors, the consequences can be dire. Physicians experiencing burnout are more prone to making a range of mistakes, from misdiagnosing an illness to technical errors during examinations or procedures. They may make questionable medical judgments that could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The survey of more than 6,700 physicians revealed that 10 percent of them admitted to making at least one significant error during the previous three months. Doctors who said they were burned out were more than twice as likely to make a medical mistake compared to those who didn’t experience the condition.

The report cites previous studies which found a link between burnt-out doctors and errors in dosing or prescribing medications. Other potentially deadly problems include ordering either too many or not enough lab tests or causing patients to fall down.

  • Between 100,000 and 200,000 patient deaths are linked to physician burnout.
  • More than 50 percent of physicians are estimated to have experienced burnout and 45 percent reported being excessively fatigued. Additionally, the suicide rate among physicians was 3 to 5 percent higher than the average population.
  • Out of the 6,586 physicians who provided information on burnout symptoms, approximately 3,066 had high emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, and 1033 experienced low personal accomplishment.

Doctor burnout is a reversible condition

While it’s frightening to think about the high rate of doctor burnout and its impact on the lives of patients, the good news is that the condition is reversible, according to the article. With the help of their employers, doctors can take steps that could reduce stress and fatigue and find ways to enjoy their work. They can cut back on their hours and adopt stress-management techniques.

Health care facilities should have a system in place to monitor their employees and intervene if a physician appears to be burned out. Fortunately, many health-care facilities include “chief wellness officers” who look after employees. If doctors are showing signs of burnout, the officers can counsel them.

As experienced medical malpractice attorneys, we have seen the impact of errors on patients whose lives can be turned upside-down. Sometimes the negligent doctor may not have received any support from his or her employer. A health-care facility that failed to help a doctor who was suffering from burnout may also be responsible for harm to the patient.

If you or a loved one was harmed by a burnt-out doctor, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. You don’t need to go it alone.

Contact The Deratany Firm to find out how we can help on your pathway to justice. We conduct comprehensive investigations on behalf of our clients and leave no stone unturned.

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