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Will rising doctor burnout rates lead to more mistakes? 

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Doctor burnout is a serious problem in the medical community. Some reports show that it’s happening more and more often. It can lead to emotional fatigue, mental distress and many other such symptoms.

Essentially, burnout just happens when doctors feel overwhelmed by a stressful profession. They also may feel like they are constantly being overworked, perhaps staying on shift for hours longer than they normally would or working without breaks. The events of the last few years have made this even more pronounced, as many hospitals and medical centers were filled to capacity or even beyond capacity. Try as they might to serve the public, the doctors and nurses are not immune to the stress and pressure that this creates.

Will it lead to mistakes?

One of the problems with doctor burnout is that it could lead to errors. A doctor may be so mentally overwhelmed that they simply have to check out or disassociate from their work. This could make them feel less attentive to the details of the case. Or a doctor who feels that they have too much on their schedule may rush from one appointment to the next, from one patient to the next, and rushing almost always increases the odds that the doctor will make a mistake.

For patients, then, this means that burnout is a real concern. Even if they only see their physician for a short time, they expect the physician’s mental and emotional state to be conducive to proper treatment. But a doctor who is fatigued and burned out may make errors that are unexpected – giving someone the wrong medication, operating on the wrong patient and so on – that could lead to harm to that patient. That’s when patients and their families need to be sure they understand all their legal options.