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Survey finds link between doctor burnout and medical mistakes

Medical professionals in Florida and elsewhere often report the symptoms of workplace burnout, according to a recent poll of almost 6,700 doctors. The study asked them about symptoms of burnout, medical errors and workplace safety. Over half of them reported fatigue, depression or suicidal thoughts, which represent clear signs of burnout. Responses that indicated burnout were prevalent among the 11 percent of doctors who also admitted to making medical errors in the previous three months.

The lead author of the study explained that poor medical judgment, diagnostic errors and technical errors during procedures represented the most common mistakes. He said that other studies have revealed an association between burnout and problems like medication mistakes, infections and death.

Doctors who described their health care facilities as unsafe were particularly prone to stress and errors. The survey found that unsafe work environments increased the chances of medical errors by as much as four times. The lead author concluded that reducing errors among doctors would require collaboration between doctors and hospitals to reduce their heavy workloads and help doctors focus on their personal wellness.

When a person's health deteriorates because of mistakes like a failure to diagnose a disease, inappropriate treatment or the wrong dose of medicine, a medical malpractice lawsuit might be an appropriate response. Because medical cases must meet high legal standards to show negligence, a victim might want a case evaluation by an attorney. After obtaining a medical opinion about the case from an independent party, an attorney could file court papers and approach the medical provider for a settlement. If the plaintiff receives a pretrial settlement offer, an attorney could provide insights about its acceptability.

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