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Medical errors and doctor burnout

According to a national survey, over half of the doctors in North Carolina and the rest of the United States are suffering from the reversible, work-related condition of burnout. The results also show that these doctors have an increased chance of committing medical errors.

For the poll, almost 6,700 hospital and clinic physicians were asked questions about depression, medical errors, symptoms of workplace burnout, suicidal thoughts and workplace safety. Over 10 percent of the doctors polled stated that they had made at least one serious medical error within the last three months before they participated in the survey. The investigators who conducted the survey concluded that the medical professionals suffering from burnout were two times as likely to commit a medical mistake.

The lead author of the study states that burnout symptoms include cynicism, emotional exhaustion and decreased effectiveness. Doctors are not the only workers who suffer from the condition, but it is very common among occupations in which workers are under high levels of stress and routinely have intense exchanges with people.

Doctors who are suffering from burnout are likely to make errors in diagnosing illnesses, technical mistakes during medical procedures and errors in medical judgments. There are additional studies that have shown the link between burnout and causing patients to develop infections, fall or die prematurely. Burned out doctors are also more likely to order too many or not enough lab tests and make errors in prescribing or dosing medication.

A medical malpractice attorney may work to obtain financial compensation on behalf of a client who received negligent health care. A doctor who failed to properly diagnose an illness, ordered unnecessary tests or wrote a prescription for the wrong type of medication may be pursued for financial damages.

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Daniel Pleasant Holoman LLP

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