Fatigue is an issue whenever someone is trying to do a complex task. This is the reason that fatigued driving leads to car accidents in the same way that drunk driving or distracted driving can.
But it’s not just drivers who may make mistakes. Fatigued doctors may also be more prone to errors, which can have a significant adverse effect on their patients.
In the worst cases, doctors are not just fatigued but burned out. Some claim there is an epidemic of physician burnout going on in the United States, and that it makes medical settings more dangerous for everyone else.
What the study says
One study looked at incidences of medical mistakes and self-reported medical errors and then combined those with signs of physician burnout. It found that a doctor who was experiencing burnout was more than twice as likely to make a medical mistake.
What causes physician burnout?
Physician burnout essentially just happens when doctors are overworked. They may feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Many doctors report feeling cynical, perhaps feeling like they can’t address all of the needs that the community has or that they are never going to be able to escape this massive workload.
Burnout is more likely in situations where doctors are facing a lot of stress. For example, a hospital may be understaffed, so a physician has to pick up extra shifts and work additional hours. Even if they are genuinely trying to do the best work that they can, they may not be able to avoid these feelings of fatigue, which can lead to serious mistakes.
Have you lost a loved one or suffered harm through a medical error? Take the time to look into all of your legal options.