Medical malpractice is a serious issue here in the United States: errors may account for as many as 251,000 deaths annually. Many of these mistakes are due to human error. We’ve all heard stories of a surgery being performed on a wrong limb or an incorrect medication being prescribed. In many instances, fatigue may have played a role. Let’s explore a bit more about the connection between medical malpractice and doctor fatigue.
There are many factors that can lead to a physician or nurse feeling fatigued. The 2021 Medscape National Physician Burnout & Suicide Report compiled the responses of 12,000 physicians across 29 specialties.
Some of the answers to “what contributes the most to your burnout?” included:
One of the physicians who completed the survey explained that all the answers applied and that it was “death by 1,000 cuts.”
Patients have good reason to care about their doctor’s mental state. In 2014, a Mayo Clinic study discovered that physician fatigue and burnout was strongly associated with an increase in medical errors. In other words, physicians reporting burnout and fatigue were substantially more likely to have made a mistake in a patient’s care.
It’s not just doctors feeling the strain, either. Nurses routinely work extended or graveyard shifts which can contribute to their tiredness. One study published in the American Journal of Infection Control showed that when burnout among nurses improved at hospitals, urinary and surgical site infection was reduced by 30%.
To sum it up, we can improve patient safety by encouraging measures to reduce physician and staff fatigue.
As always, take the time to research a new provider. Look for what other patients have had to say, learn how long they’ve been in practice, and call the office and ask any questions you have. Besides this, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a malpractice victim:
For more on this topic, be sure to read our blog post How You Can Prevent Medical Errors.
If you’ve found our post today because you are a medical malpractice victim, please reach out to one of our medical malpractice attorneys. There is no cost or obligation to have us hear what happened to you and inform you of your legal rights. To reach us, call us or fill out the short form located on our homepage.