Most people in North Carolina perform better at their jobs when they are mentally refreshed, but some professions do not make it easy. Doctors in particular face an incredibly high rate of professional burnout. This is particularly dangerous since patients’ lives are on the line. Indeed, even doctors acknowledge that burnout can contribute to medical malpractice.
A poll involving approximately 6,700 doctors was recently published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Doctors who work in both hospital and clinic settings were surveyed about workplace safety, medical errors and workplace burnout, symptoms of which include depression and fatigue. Over 10 percent of respondents admitted that they had made a serious medical error in the past three months. Doctors who reported experiencing symptoms of burnout were most likely to report medical errors.
The most commonly reported errors associated with burnout include diagnostic errors, medical judgment errors and technical errors made during sensitive procedures. Different studies also linked drug errors, improper testing and premature patient death to physician burnout. These types of errors are believed to cause up to 200,000 deaths annually.
A 2012 study published in a psychiatry journal found that over 50 percent of doctors see up to 50 patients in a single day. The study also examined doctors’ stress levels and came to a shocking conclusion. Of study participants, 51 percent were stressed and 27 percent were experiencing morbid stress.
The current health care system places an enormous amount of stress and pressure on doctors, which can lead to burnout and poor outcomes for patients. However, burnout is no excuse for medical malpractice. When a doctor’s actions or lack thereof cause serious harm to North Carolina patients, they — or the surviving families of those who did not survive the medical error — can seek compensation through the careful actions of a medical malpractice suit.