COVID-19 and the Increased Risk of Medical Errors

Could Doctors or Nurses Be Too Distracted By COVID-19 to Provide Proper Care For Non-COVID Patients?

Health care professionals face a heavy burden in a time of COVID. Every day, they place themselves at risk of infection as they care for more patients than they’re equipped to handle. Many are alarmingly short on sleep, taking on extra responsibilities to cover for coworkers who have contracted the disease. Even if they manage to remain physically healthy, the sheer mental burden of working in healthcare during a pandemic can be difficult to overcome.

Given the unique challenges faced by today’s doctors and nurses, medical errors may represent an even greater risk than they did in the past. These mistakes have the potential to harm both patients suffering from COVID-19 and those receiving care for unrelated reasons. We explore the latest research on COVID-related distraction below:

Stress on the Rise for Health Care Workers

Extensive research verifies what anybody who takes the time to chat with a doctor or nurse already knows: modern health care workers are stressed to the max. For example, a noteworthy study from The Lancet focused on front line nurses in Wuhan. It detailed their significant levels of burnout during the height of the pandemic in China.

The Lancet‘s study also found that burnout “negatively correlated with self-efficacy,” or confidence in the nurses’ professional abilities. Some people believe that problematic self-efficacy can increase the potential for errors. It may even prompt inaccuracies in reporting medical mistakes.

The Devastating Impact of Distraction and Anxiety

A direct link between COVID, distraction, and medical errors remains murky due to limited research on the current pandemic. However, past precedent suggests that the mental burden prompted by overwhelming personal and environmental stress can have a negative impact. A 2017 study published in the journal Safety and Health at Work suggests that psychosocial concerns such as stress can increase the likelihood of medication errors among nurses.

If you believe you’ve suffered due to dangers of healthcare during a pandemic, seek medical malpractice guidance from Regan Zambri Long PLLC.