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Doctor burnout can increase the risk of medical malpractice

Doctors receive a lot of education, training, and on-the-job experience. While that can certainly leave them qualified to provide medical care, it doesn’t mean that they are mistake free in carrying out their duties. A whole host of issues can arise in the health care context that places patients in harm’s way. Doctors might be tired, distracted, or even intoxicated while providing care, which can lead to serious injuries. As dangerous as these behaviors are, there’s another lesser-known cause of medical malpractice: burnout.

The dangers of doctor burnout

Doctors are human. Just like those who work in other jobs, these professionals can be subjected to emotional exhaustion, a loss of empathy, an increase in negativity and cynicism, and a decreased feeling of professional effectiveness. This burnout can, in turn, lead to substance abuse, poorer quality of care, and an increased risk of medical mistake. This means that a burned out doctor might nick an organ during surgery, fail to diagnose a deadly but treatable disease, or provide the wrong medication.

The numbers are staggering

The rate of doctor burnout is troubling, too. Some reports estimate that nearly 50% of hospital residents and family physicians experience symptoms of burnout. These numbers are attributable to a number of factors, including the implementation of electronic medical records, the increased number of patients that need to be seen, and even a focus on patient satisfaction scores.

Don’t let your doctor get away with excuses

Regardless of why a doctor is burned out, nothing can justify medical malpractice. That’s why if you’ve been harmed by a medical error you should do everything you can to determine exactly what happened and who is responsible for the damages that have been unfairly thrust upon you. Pursuing a medical malpractice case isn’t always easy, though, which is why you might find it beneficial to discuss your circumstances with a legal advocate who knows how to aggressively pursue one of these cases.