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Doctor burnout can lead to medical mistakes

More than 50 percent of doctors around the country are suffering from workplace burnout, according to a study. Unfortunately, this means that Pennsylvania physicians are also more likely to commit medical errors.

For the study, which was published on the Mayo Clinic Proceedings website on July 9, researchers surveyed almost 6,700 doctors about issues like workplace safety, medical errors and the symptoms of job-related burnout. They found that 11 percent of respondents admitted they had made a significant medical error in the previous 90 days. They also found that doctors who were suffering from workplace burnout were twice as likely to have made a medical mistake than those who had no burnout symptoms. The symptoms of burnout can include emotional exhaustion, depression, cynicism and suicidal thoughts.

According to the lead author of the study, the most common medical mistakes reported by respondents included errors in judgment, diagnosis errors and technical performance errors during procedures. Meanwhile, other studies have found that burnout can cause doctors to make mistakes while prescribing medications, ordering diagnostic tests or interacting with patients. Studies indicate that up to 50 percent of all U.S. doctors are suffering from workplace burnout at any given moment. Experts say that clinics and hospitals can reduce the symptoms of burnout by encouraging doctors to take better care of themselves, limiting their work hours and offering stress management and mindfulness training.

Medical mistakes are one of the top causes of death in the United States. People who have been harmed by doctor errors might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse they might have.

Source: CBS News, "Doctor burnout behind many medical errors, study finds", Alan Mozes, July 10, 2018

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