Workplace fatigue and burnout is a problem affecting American doctors, and according to a new study, as many as half of all doctors in the country are experiencing symptoms of fatigue that actually increase their risk of medical errors.
The poll was conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, and focused on nearly 6,700 physicians. More than 10% of the doctors in the survey admitted to committing at least one major medical mistake in the three months before the survey. The researchers were also able to confirm that physicians who suffered from symptoms of burnout and fatigue were much more likely to commit serious medical errors.
Burnout among physicians refers to symptoms related to the cumulative effects of stress, excessive work and fatigue that can compromise patient safety. According to many researchers, this is a systemic problem in the medical community, and not many efforts have been made to find real solutions to the problem. In some cases, physicians have been enrolled in yoga and meditation classes to cope with the stresses of their profession. These are temporary Band-Aid treatments that fail to address the root of the problem.
The risk of burnout is very real in the medical community. According to some statistics, as many as 300 doctors commit suicide every year. In fact, physicians have some of the highest rates of death by suicide compared to other professions.
According to medical experts studying this phenomenon, when a doctor suffers from symptoms of burnout, it affects not only his stress levels, but also impacts the rate of recovery of the patient. Physicians suffering from burnout are much more likely to have patients who take a much longer time to recover. These doctors are also more likely to leave the profession, or choose to work part-time, and are also twice as likely to be the focus of patient complaints.
The medical culture trains physicians to work 36-hour shifts, not taking into account the fact that a physician working in hour one is really not functioning the same at hour 36. Moreover, doctors are placed under immense pressure to seem invincible, and almost superhuman to an extent. When new doctors join the profession, they instantly emulate the pressure-laden work habits of their seniors, perpetrating a vicious cycle that places patients at risk of harm from medical errors.
The Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller are dedicated to the representation of persons who have suffered injuries as a result of medical negligence across Indiana.