Burnout Rates in Physician Assistants Endanger Vulnerable Patients
December 14, 2021
Physician assistants (or physician associates) are mid-level medical workers who can diagnose illnesses, develop and manage treatment plans, and prescribe medications. In some cases, they act as principal providers for their patients. A recent study published in the journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA) found that burnout in physician assistants is a primary contributing factor to not only anxiety and depression in healthcare workers, but also that it leads to higher rates of avoidable medical errors.
Data shows that medical errors are far more prevalent in the United States than they are in other developed countries around the world. According to an analysis published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, or the NCBI, medical errors cause as many as 251,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. At this rate, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the country, behind only heart disease and cancer. While there are many different types of medical errors, some of the most common ones that physician assistants (and other healthcare workers) make include:
- A healthcare worker may misdiagnose a patient’s condition. Doctors misdiagnosed one of our clients, for example, with cancer when the client in fact just had a mouth sore. Our client underwent extensive mouth and neck surgery. During surgery, medical workers performed additional studies, which later showed that the patient did not have cancer. To read more about this case, which our attorneys settled for $425,000, visit: https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/Medical-Malpractice/17-2/
- Treating the wrong patient. Although it sounds extreme, it can happen. If one person’s identity gets mixed up with another person’s during the course of treatment, medical personnel may give the patient the incorrect medication(s) or even perform surgery on the wrong person
- Wrong site surgery. Wrong site surgeries result from a provider performing the surgery on the wrong part of the body or on the wrong side of the body
- Hospital-acquired infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some of the most common causes behind hospital-acquired infections are infections from surgical sites, central lines, and from catheter use. In some cases, contaminated devices (like a compromised central line) transmit infectious agents into the patient. In other scenarios, patients develop infections while receiving medical care because staff members fail to follow sanitation and hygiene protocols
- Failure to diagnose a condition. Sometimes medical personnel fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of a condition before it is too late. In one instance, our client’s family doctor failed to recognize the signs of an impending heart attack. Instead, the doctor claimed that our patient was suffering from a simple case of indigestion. As a result of the doctor’s failure to diagnose the condition, the patient died. Our attorneys successfully settled this matter pre-trial for $800,000. To learn more about this recovery, please visit: https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/Medical-Malpractice/19-2/
- Equipment failures. Hospitals rely on an array of equipment, like x-ray machines, heart defibrillators, and vital sign monitors, to effectively treat patients. These machines are sometimes defective or run out of battery power; when a hospital fails to inspect and maintain their machinery, there is an even greater chance that an equipment failure will occur. Equipment failures can cause serious injury or death. For example, our attorneys represented the grieving family of a five-month-old child who died after doctors failed to recognize that the device they implanted in his heart was not working properly. Our attorneys not only proved that the device was not the right choice for the specific procedure that the child had, but also that it was defective. Our attorneys secured the family a multi-million settlement prior to jury selection. To read more about this recovery, you can visit: https://www.galfandberger.com/verdicts/medical-malpractice/multi-million-dollar-failed-heart-device-case/
- Leaving surgical tools inside a patient’s body. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately 70% of the items left in patient’s bodies are surgical sponges. The remaining 30% are generally instruments such as retractors, clamps, scalpels, drain tips, and scissors. Sometimes, it takes months for a patient to experience side effects from having a surgical tool left in their body. At other times, the complications are swift and serious — sometimes they are even deadly. Patients can experience severe pain, infection, internal organ damage, obstructions, and more if a medical worker leaves a surgical tool left inside their body after a procedure
- Lab errors. A mistake in taking, collecting, and/or interpreting a patient’s labs can wreak catastrophic consequences. Some of the most common complications associated with lab errors include a delay in reporting, unnecessary redraws, misdiagnosis, and improper treatment
What is Medical Malpractice and When Should You Speak with a Lawyer?
Being burnt out on the job is no excuse for negligence. While it is clear that healthcare systems need to immediately address burnout and determine effective ways to mitigate its effects on providers and patients alike, people should still be able to feel confident that they are receiving standard and safe care. Medical mistakes injure or kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Although some medical mistakes are unavoidable, others should never happen in the first place. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or other kind of healthcare provider fails to follow their industry’s professional standards and protocols and as a result, causes injury or death to a patient. It can be difficult to prove that a provider has made a medical mistake, which is why it is a good idea for a victim of medical malpractice to speak directly with an attorney.
At Galfand Berger, our attorneys are committed to helping innocent individuals who have been harmed by medical mistakes. Our team works hard to ensure that patients and their families uncover the truth about the circumstances surrounding an injury or illness. If you would like to learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim, contact a representative online who can help.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you were injured by a negligent care provider and you would like to pursue a full and just recovery of damages, contact our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.