Study: Physician burnout, depression can lead to major medical errors

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Article courtesy of ABC News via “The Rundown”
Does your doctor’s mental health and well-being affect the care you receive? A new study says yes — burnout, fatigue and depression may affect major medical errors.

Medical errors contribute to an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 deaths per year, according to the Institute of Medicine. Burnout — defined as emotional exhaustion or depersonalization — occurs in more than half of doctors, according to the study.

Researchers surveyed physicians across the country to understand the relationship between burnout and major medical errors in their careers.

Their findings, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, suggest burnout, by itself, plays a large role in errors. Other independent factors affecting errors include the perceived safety of the workplace, physician fatigue and physician mental health.

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine anonymously surveyed more than 6,600 physicians in active practice. They were asked to fill out standardized questionnaires looking at their levels of burnout, well-being, fatigue and symptoms of depression. In addition, the doctors were asked to grade the safety of their workplace and comment on any major medical errors they may have made.

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