NEW SURVEY – HOW MISTAKES CAUSE STRESS IN DOCTORS

The AP published results of a new survey yesterday – read here:

Survey Finds Many Docs Stress Mistakes
By LINDSEY TANNER

CHICAGO — Patients aren’t the only ones harmed by medical errors, according to a survey released Wednesday that found many doctors who make mistakes _ and even those who come close _ suffer stress, sleep problems and loss of confidence.
Job stress related to medical errors potentially could make some doctors prone to depression, quitting or even making additional mistakes, underscoring the need for helping them cope, said Washington University psychologist Amy Waterman, the study’s lead author.

Most doctors surveyed said they would have liked counseling or other help after making mistakes, but that hospitals and other health care organizations didn’t offer much assistance.
The survey involved 3,171 doctors in St. Louis, Seattle and Canada who answered mailed or e-mailed questionnaires. Most _ 2,909 of them _ said they had been involved with a near miss, minor medical error or serious error, which includes mistakes causing permanent or potentially life-threatening harm.
The results appear in the August edition of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, published by an affiliate of The Joint Commission, a hospital regulatory group involved in nationwide efforts to reduce medical errors.
Many of those efforts stem from an influential 1999 report that estimated that at least 44,000 Americans die each year from medical mistakes.
While the survey’s scope was limited, the results echo smaller studies and likely apply to doctors elsewhere, the authors and experts not involved in the research said.
Dr. Donald Berwick, a Harvard professor who runs the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, said even more doctors might be adversely affected in regions where reforms aimed at reducing medical errors haven’t taken hold.
“Nobody thinks that this excuses or should minimize” the suffering of patients harmed by errors, but it’s important to emphasize that doctors suffer, too, Berwick said.
Of surveyed doctors involved in errors, 61 percent said they felt increased anxiety about the potential for future mistakes, 44 percent said they became less confident in their job abilities, 42 percent experienced sleep problems and 42 percent had a loss in job satisfaction.
Only 10 percent said hospitals offered them adequate resources for dealing with mistake-related stress.
Doctors involved in serious errors were most likely to report increased job-related stress. Still, increased stress also was reported by one-third of those involved in near-misses.”

Dan Frith

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.