Medical Errors Remain a Leading Cause of Death in U.S.
September 7, 2018
Anyone who does a quick Google search of the phrase “medical errors” will see that there is nothing uncommon about patients who suffer permanent or deadly injuries that result from negligent medical care. Just two years ago, Johns Hopkins University conducted an in-depth study that revealed medical errors as the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Today’s statistics show that fewer doctors are experiencing burnout, but that the numbers remain dangerously high. As such, medical errors remain a major public health concern.
According to an even more recent study – this one conducted by researchers at Stanford University – being burnt out can make a doctor as much as 50% more likely to make a deadly mistake.
Data on Doctor Burnout and How it Relates to Medical Mistakes
Researchers at Stanford University said they were interested in how many doctors experience burnout – as well as how it effects their work performance – because of how many patients are harmed or killed by serious medical mistakes every year. According to the researcher’s survey of nearly 7,000 doctors:
- More than 50% reported being burnt out, which can include symptoms such as general fatigue, lower immunity to illnesses, change in sleep or eating habits, frequent aches and pains, and more;
- Approximately 7% experienced suicidal ideations, and:
- 4% reported that they were receiving a “failing” safety grade in their main work area of focus
In addition to these findings, the researchers also found that doctors who work in units with a higher number of “acceptable” or “poor” safety grades are more likely to make medical errors than ones in more highly-rated facilities are.
What Causes Physician Burnout?
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), doctors who practice certain specialties experience more frequent rates of physician burnout. Some of the specialties that see the highest rate of physician burnout include:
- Internal medicine;
- Emergency medicine;
- Critical care, and:
- Family medicine
When asked which factors contribute the most to experiencing burnout, physicians responded that being at work for too many hours, having to perform too many administrative tasks, and being in front of computers too much were all high on their lists.
What Can Hospitals and Medical Providers Do?
The AMA recommends that medical facilities try to maintain manageable work schedules and on-call hours for their staff members. The association also offers resources for doctors on how they can make organizational changes that can prevent burnout, which you can learn more about by visiting: https://wire.ama-assn.org/life-career/physician-burnout-it-s-not-you-it-s-your-medical-specialty.
The American Psychological Association (APA) says there are certain control measures that have been proven to limit burnout and harmful rates of work-based frustrations. Some examples of these include:
- Coordinating care across all treating staff members regardless of position or specialty;
- A shared view on the patient’s position or plan of care, and:
- Cooperating as a team
Even though medical professionals know that burnout can lead to medical mistakes and errors, many will still experience it. If you or a loved one was injured or became ill because of a medical mistake or a doctor’s error, please contact a representative at our firm who may be able to help answer your questions.
Numbers on Medical Mistakes may be Underreported
According to the Johns Hopkins study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only consider medical errors as “underlying causes of death”, not as primary ones. That means the numbers do not accurately represent how many Americans lose their lives as a result of a medical professional’s mistakes.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Medical Negligence
Our medical malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia are experienced in representing victims of medical malpractice. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.