Medical errors are a serious issue in our country. They are the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, which is why the healthcare industry is trying to reduce these errors. However, a new study may be refocusing that effort as it exposes when doctors are more likely to make a life-threatening mistake.
When Are Doctors Most Likely to Make a Medical Error?
For many years, the healthcare industry has been trying to reduce medical errors by changing the environment in facilities. These efforts have included the use of checklists, expansions of technology and equalizing hierarchies between clinicians, nurses and doctors. These efforts are meant to increase safety ratings and minimize the opportunities doctors have to make medical errors. Yet, a new study brings these efforts into question.
A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that physicians with burnout were twice as likely to report a medical error. This is startling considering that out of the 6,695 doctors who participated in the study, 3,574 reported they were experiencing burnout symptoms.
The study also found that the possibility of a medical error at healthcare work units with low safety ratings was three to four times higher. However, if physicians reported a high level of burnout in their unit, rates of medical errors tripled in that unit regardless of its safety ratings.
These findings suggest not only that doctors make more mistakes when they are tired, but that fatigue may play a larger part in preventing medical errors than creating a safer environment in medical units.
Should the healthcare industry refocus its efforts on fighting burnout to keep patients safer? Do you think the exhaustion level of a physician may have contributed to an injury you or a loved one suffered under the care of a healthcare provider?
The Washington DC medical malpractice attorneys at Regan Zambri Long PLLC want to help you find out. We are dedicated to partnering with families who are seeking justice for their injuries and loss through the legal system. Don’t be afraid to contact us for a free consultation at (202) 463-3030 and find out how we can help you.