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How burnout leads to serious medical errors

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

A lot of people trust their medical providers. But that trust can quickly dissipate when a medical error is made, which can leave you with serious, perhaps even catastrophic, injuries that can last a lifetime.

As you try to make sense of the harm that’s befallen you, you might have a lot of questions that you want answered. Amongst them is how your medical event occurred, and why it wasn’t avoided.

There can be a number of factors that contribute to medical malpractice. Fatigue, inattention, and even intoxication can all play a role. But there’s another characteristic of many healthcare providers that could put you at risk: burnout.

What you need to know about burnout in the medical profession

Burnout is exceedingly common in the medical profession. In fact, some studies estimate that more than 50% of clinicians report burnout. This burnout can affect anyone in the medical field, from primary care physicians to nurses and surgeons.

But why does it matter? Simply put, doctors who are burned out put patients at risk. Doctors who are no longer engaged in the profession can have poor interactions with patients, which means that they could miss information that’s key to an accurate diagnosis. They can also have a reduced recollection and attention span, which could lead to a devastating surgical error.

Regardless of how burn out affects a patient, the resulting consequences can be catastrophic. Medical malpractice can lead to a worsened medical condition, severe injury that results in permanent disability, or death.

As a result, victims and their families often face long-term pain and suffering, emotional turmoil, and loss of enjoyment of life. As if that’s not enough, these individuals then have to offset their lost wages and medical expenses, which can cause financial devastation.

Why does burnout occur?

There are multiple causes of doctor burnout. Among them are:

  • Family responsibilities: It’s hard for people to juggle their work lives with their personal lives. This can lead to fatigue and tiredness. In some jobs, this may not impact performance a lot, but in the medical field, any lack of attentiveness and alertness can lead to poor outcomes.
  • Time constraints: Doctors are pressed to see more and more patients in less time. After all, that’s oftentimes how they maximize their profits. But less time with patients means that they have minimal opportunity to find what’s wrong with their patients. This can lead to misdiagnoses and missed diagnoses.
  • Electronic health records: Modern record keeping in the medical field is time-consuming and burdensome. This reduces face-to-face patient time and creates stress that can impact doctor performance.
  • An uncontrollable environment: A lot of doctors need time to think and reflect on their patients’ conditions. However, most medical professionals have very little control over their schedules. Emergencies arise and appointments take longer than anticipated, both of which can leave doctors in a time crunch, forcing them to make rushed decisions that may not be right for patients.

What can you do if you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice?

If an errant medical professional has left you hurt or with a worsened medical condition, then you need to find accountability. The best way to do this is to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Even those medical malpractice cases that seem straightforward can be fraught with legal nuances, though, which is why you need to ensure that you have a strong legal strategy in place before moving forward with your case. As you proceed, make sure you’re being diligent and doing everything you can to protect your interests and your future.