Doctor Depression and Mental Fatigue Increase Medical Errors

Doctor Depression and Mental Fatigue Increase Medical Errors

A recent study revealed that physician depression and burnout directly correlates to medical mistakes. As the number of fatalities from preventable medical errors continues to plague the American health care system, efforts to address physician mental health are critical.

The study out of Standard University Medical Center found that more than more than 10% of doctors reported making a serious medical error. 1 in 20 of those errors were fatal. The study also found that doctors were more than twice as likely to make an error when they were “burnt-out” – defined as mentally exhausted, and 38% more likely to make a mistake when fatigued. With medical errors the third leading cause of death behind heart failure and cancer, these statistics are alarming.

The areas of practice with the highest area of burn out include emergency room doctors, neurosurgeons and radiologists. Authors of the study note a direct correlation – the higher the level of burnout, the greater the number of mistakes. Further, if a doctor is making mistakes, he or she is increasingly likely to experience depression, which may fuel more mistakes. As such, finding ways to decrease physician burnout is critical for improving patient safety.

For more information or if you believe that you or a loved one has been harmed by a medical error or mistake, it is crucial to contact an experienced Los Angeles medical malpractice lawyer at once to begin an investigation into all of the factors surrounding your medical care.

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