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Study finds doctor burnout leads to medical mistakes

A new study has found that over half of doctors in Hawaii and the rest of the United States are suffering from workplace burnout. Unfortunately, this makes them more likely to commit medical errors. The study was published July 9 in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

For the study, almost 6,700 doctors were surveyed on a number of professional issues, including medical errors, symptoms of workplace burnout, workplace safety, depression, fatigue and suicidal thoughts. Over 10 percent of the respondents said they had made at least one notable medical mistake in the three months prior to the survey. Furthermore, the authors of the study found that doctors who were experiencing burnout symptoms were at twice the risk of committing a medical error than those who were not.

According to the study, workplace burnout is a job-related condition known for causing emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a drop in effectiveness. It can impact people working in any industry, but it is very common in medical professions due to long hours, high stress and an intense working environment. The study found that the most common burnout-related mistakes involved diagnosis errors, errors in medical judgment and technical performance errors. Other studies have linked burnout to mistakes like ordering incorrect lab tests, improperly dosing medications and making mistakes that cause patients to acquire infections, fall or die. The study's lead author said that between one-third and half of all U.S. physicians are currently suffering from burnout.

When doctors commit medical mistakes, affected patients have the right to pursue financial compensation in court. For example, with the help of a medical malpractice attorney, it might be possible to prove a doctor did not provide the required standard of care. This could lead to a settlement that covers medical bills and other damages.

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