Edwards & Kautz
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Doctor fatigue and stress linked strongly to medical errors

Hospital doctors in Kentucky have a high chance of becoming burned out on the job. Unfortunately, this can affect their performance. A nationwide survey of 6,700 doctors found significant levels of burnout. The lead author of the study defined the traits of burnout as emotional exhaustion and cynicism caused by work stress. He said at any point in time, one-third to half of doctors experience the symptoms of burnout, which can reduce the quality of their medical judgments.

The survey collected information about doctors' feelings about workplace safety, depression, fatigue and suicidal thoughts. A full 11 percent of them admitted to making medical errors in the previous three months. The responses from this group showed a high prevalence of burnout symptoms. This information builds upon other studies that have revealed links between doctor burnout and problems like medication errors, inappropriate lab testing, patient falls, infections and premature death.

An assistant professor of clinical medicine who commented on this research said that widespread burnout arises from problems like doctors shouldering large student debts, decreasing pay and increasing workplace responsibilities. He said that medical employers should take steps to reduce workplace stress caused by long hours and information overload.

Many types of medical mistakes, like a failure to diagnose, anesthesia error or surgical error, could cause a patient significant harm. Someone who has been hurt by faulty medical care could consult an attorney about filing a medical malpractice claim. An attorney could evaluate the evidence to see if it indicates medical negligence. The testimony of an independent doctor might be obtained by an attorney to build the case. After filing court papers, the lawyer could open discussions about a settlement.

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Edwards & Kautz

Edwards & Kautz
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Paducah, KY 42003

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