Most Kentucky residents undoubtedly have heard this expression: “Physician, heal thyself.”
It dates back to the sixth century BC and also showed up in Greek drama, but it easily applies to today. For doctors to best treat patients, they have to take care of themselves.
A study from mid-2018 concluded that more than 50 percent of American doctors suffer from burnout, and they’re the ones who are likely to make medical errors.
The conclusions were drawn from the results of a poll of nearly 6,700 physicians regarding everything ranging from fatigue to burnout to depression.
More than 10 percent of the respondents said they had made at least one big medical mistake in the prior three months. Those who were experiencing burnout had double the odds of making a medical mistake.
One of the researchers had this to say about doctors and burnout:
“When a physician is experiencing burnout, a wide range of adverse events may occur,” the researcher said. “In our study, the most common errors were errors in medical judgment, errors in diagnosing illness, and technical mistakes during procedures.”
The researcher said other studies have shown burnout to cause doctors to improperly prescribe drugs, make errors in ordering lab tests or cause patients to acquire infections that even could lead to death.
Between 33 percent and 50 percent of American doctors are thought to have symptoms at any one time, and some hospitals have designed programs to try to relieve the stresses and burnout.
That’s a good start, but one risk to a patient is still one risk too many. If you have suffered a serious health setback because of an error made by a physician, talk to a Kentucky attorney who has experience with medical malpractice to see if you have a case.