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Doctor burnout may lead to medical errors

Doctor burnout is a widespread issue that affects medical professionals in Montana and across the U.S. According to a national survey published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, more than half of doctors practicing in America are burned out, and thus more likely to make mistakes. The survey asked almost 6,700 hospital and clinic doctors about issues like fatigue, depression, suicidal thoughts, medical errors, workplace safety and symptoms of burnout.

It also found that more than 10 percent of doctors said they'd committed one or more significant medical errors in the previous three month period. Researchers concluded that doctors who were suffering from burnout were at double the risk to make a medical mistake. According to the study's lead author, an instructor in pediatric critical care at the School of Medicine at Stanford University, burnout is a work-related syndrome evidenced by cynicism or emotional exhaustion. Doctors often experience reduced effectiveness in practice as a result of burnout.

Previous studies have shown a link between doctor burnout and errors in prescribing or dosing prescription drugs, ordering too few or too many tests, and even causing patients to acquire infections or to fall. A 2012 study from the SA Journal of Psychology indicated that more than half of the doctors who participated saw between 30 and 50 patients every day. Previous studies have also linked medical errors to as many as 200,000 patient deaths annually.

Individuals who suffer harm as a result of medical errors may be entitled to recover for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. An attorney with experience in medical malpractice law might be able to help by examining the facts of the case and identifying parties who may have liability. An attorney might gather evidence or conduct witness depositions in preparation for trial, or attempt to negotiate a settlement with healthcare providers and their insurers.

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Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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