Burnout Leads to Higher Risk of Medical Errors

A new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings last month indicates that doctors who experience at least one major symptom of professional burnout are more than twice as likely to also report that they committed a major medical error within the past 3 months.

This information is not surprising. As a medical malpractice attorney, Dr. Bradley I. Kramer is well aware that physician overload is a major cause of medical malpractice at the hospital and doctor’s office. While the study’s conclusions are based upon self-reporting by doctors across a variety of medical fields, anecdotal evidence from other perspectives (including legal ones) support the study’s conclusion that there is a significant link between burnout and medical malpractice.

The researchers in the study used the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile to contact nearly 95,000 doctors over the course of 3 months. The cross-sectional survey studied doctors across all specialties and allowed them to report anonymously to prevent retribution from employers or patients. About 6,695 invitees completed the survey. The median hours per week worked among the respondents was 50 hours.

Of the 60 questions presented in the survey, several were designed to address burnout among doctors. These often related to whether and how often they felt fatigued or depressed and had suicidal thoughts. The survey also addressed wellness factors such as age, sex, relationship status, and amount of time spent working. One of the most interesting portions of the survey asked doctors “Are you concerned you have made any major medical errors in the last 3 months?” The rate at which doctors answered “yes” to this question correlated highly with indicating at least one major symptom of professional burnout.

The effects of medical malpractice can be devastating on individuals and families, no matter what the cause. When you or a family member have been injured through the negligence of a medical provider, it’s important to seek legal help quickly. Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., is both a medical doctor and a California-licensed attorney. The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq. is waiting to take your call and answer your questions. Call us today at (310) 289-2600 or visit us online to have your case reviewed by one of our attorneys.

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