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Study shows misdiagnosis and other errors could be due to burnout

Ohio residents who seek treatment for an illness, condition or injury from a medical professional will do so amid the belief that there will be an accurate diagnosis and adequate treatment provided. Unfortunately, it is a reality that mistakes are made and they lead to serious injury and death. The question that is often asked is why. Studies seek to find an answer and a new survey indicates that burnout might be a major factor in medical mistakes.

A survey of 6,600 physicians who are currently active was done by the Stanford University School of Medicine. The doctors answered questions related to their levels of fatigue, whether they were depressed, what their well-being was and if they experienced burnout. They were also asked about errors they might have committed. Slightly more than 10 percent of the physicians admitted to having made a medical mistake in the three months prior to being part of the survey. One in 20 led to a fatality. Errors in judgment happened most often. Next were mistaken diagnosis and technical mistakes.

Of the doctors who took part, 55 percent said they felt burnout. 33 percent were fatigued. And, 6.5 percent admitted to considering suicide. Doctors who had indicators of burnout were twice as likely to make medical errors. If they were fatigued, it was 38 percent more likely. Since medical mistakes cost as many as 200,000 lives annually, this is a major concern for patients and their families. While errors are generally perceived as medical professionals failing to pay attention, not giving the correct treatment, making a mistake with medication and other obvious issues, doctors who are feeling burnout are prone to making a litany of errors that can cause damage to patients in myriad ways.

When there is an unexpectedly worsened condition, a different issue that arises from the original problem, or an unanticipated death, it is imperative that there be a full investigation into what happened to determine the cause. Having legal assistance that is experienced in medical malpractice cases can investigate the case and help in seeking compensation in a lawsuit.

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