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Study: Physician Burn-Out Leads to Major Medical Errors

Study: Physician Burn-Out Leads to Major Medical Errors

Doctors and other healthcare workers have the lives of patients in their hands every day. This is a very stressful proposition for anyone, and this stress may cause physicians to suffer from burn-out, and make mistakes. Physician burn-out is a common problem and it can lead to mistakes being made, even medical malpractice.  According to Becker’s Hospital Review, doctors that report feeling burn-out were twice as likely to make a medical error, and the rate of medical mistakes at medical units in which doctors reported burn-out were triple those of other facilities.

A Number of Physicians Report Burn-Out

A study from Stanford University School of Medicine surveyed 6,000 doctors at hospitals throughout the United States and asked if they had suffered from burn-out, and if they had previously made medical mistakes. The physicians were also asked to speak about the safety of the medical unit they worked at.

Another survey was conducted by ABC News. This report showed that 55 percent of doctors said they had suffered from burn-out. Of these physicians, 33 percent said they also had high fatigue levels, while 6.5 percent experienced suicidal thoughts. This same study showed that doctors that suffered from burn-out were twice as likely to make a medical mistake, while fatigued doctors were 38 percent more likely to make a mistake.

Safety in the Workplace Does Not Affect Physician Burn-Out

The Stanford study also highlighted the fact that medical mistakes resulting from burn-out were just as likely to happen at medical centers with a high safety rating as those that had lower ratings. Hospitals and other facilities reported that the rate of medical mistakes in their institution tripled when doctors reported they were experiencing burn-out, even when the institution was given a high safety rating.

The issue of doctor burn-out, and the mistakes that result from it, are unique to the United States because the healthcare system is so different and less efficient than it is in other countries. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has imposed strict requirements on documentation and electronic health records that doctors must abide by. These requirements result in doctors spending two hours on paperwork for every hour they spend with a patient. Doctors are also expected to handle many tasks on their own, when they are more suitable for a team-based approach.

Most Common Medical Errors

Doctor burn-out can lead to many different medical errors, but there are some that are more common than others. These are:

  • Misdiagnosis: A misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor diagnoses a patient with the wrong condition, which can result in harmful and unnecessary treatment. It can also delay the patient from receiving the right type of treatment.
  • Delayed diagnosis: A delayed diagnosis often occurs because a doctor does not think there is anything seriously wrong with a patient. For example, a doctor may tell a patient they are suffering from a cold and should get some rest, when the person really has pneumonia.
  • Medication mistakes: Medication errors can include the wrong dosage, prescribing drugs that will negatively interact with each other, and prescribing medication to the wrong patient.
  • Infections: Patients are most likely to suffer from an infection when they stay at a hospital or undergo a procedure. Negligent actions such as not implementing proper prevention controls and not ensuring tools are sterilized can result in an infection.

Any time a doctor or other healthcare worker makes any of the above mistakes, they can be held liable to pay for damages.

Physician Burn-Out is No Excuse for Negligence

It is true that the job of physicians is very stressful, and that burn-out is a very real problem in the American healthcare industry. However, it is not an excuse for medical negligence. Doctors must provide the highest standard of care when they are treating patients, and when they do not patients suffer great harm. Patients that are hurt by a doctor’s negligence can file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor or the facility.

Medical malpractice claims, unfortunately, are not easy to file. Of all personal injury claims, those involving medical malpractice are the most complex. They present many challenges that a New York City medical malpractice lawyer can help you overcome.

Doctors will not typically admit that they were at fault for a patient’s injuries, but you must prove it when filing a claim. Even when a doctor’s actions or inactions rose to the level of medical negligence, the only evidence is often the doctor’s notes.

To prove medical negligence, a lawyer will typically have to reach out to experts that can advise you during the case. In New York, this is actually mandatory, as all medical malpractice claims require a certificate of merit. A doctor in the same industry and in the same field as the defendant must state within the certificate that they would not have acted in the same way and that the defendant did not provide the highest standard of care.

When a medical malpractice case goes to trial, the defendant also has a better chance of being successful. Juries tend to understand that practicing medicine is very difficult, and not every case will result in a positive outcome. While you should always work with a lawyer when filing a medical malpractice claim, it is even more important if your case goes to trial. A lawyer will argue your case to the jury and prove that medical negligence occurred so you are awarded full damages.

Call Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New York City Today

Medical negligence causes patients very harm, and doctor burn-out is no excuse. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our New York City medical malpractice lawyer will handle every detail of your claim while you focus on your recovery. To learn more about how we can help you claim a full settlement, call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.