The burnout of specialists is directly related to a sharp increase in the risk of medical errors, according to the results of an American study.
The study, the results of which were published on the Mayo Clinic website, included a survey of practicing American doctors in the period from 28th of August till October 2014. More than 94,000 doctors received the letters with an offer to participate in the study. 6,695 of the doctors, who received the letters, agreed to participate in the study and filled the questionnaire, which included 60 points. Among other questions there were some relating to burnout, fatigue, suicidal thoughts, the level of security in the units and the recent medical errors.
The presence of signs of burnout was reported by 54.3% of respondents, 32.8% noted excessive fatigue, 6.5% reported suicidal thoughts, and 10.5% reported having committed significant medical errors during the 3 months preceding the survey.
The doctors who reported committing mistakes were more likely to note the symptoms of burnout (77.6% vs 51.5%; P <0.001), fatigue (46.6% vs 31.2%; P <0.001) and suicidal thoughts (12,7% vs 5.8%; P <0.001).
With a statistical analysis, it was determined that committing medical errors was significantly associated with burnout: this condition increased the chance of a mistake by 2 times (odds ratio 2.22; 95% CI 1.79–2.76). The odds ratio for fatigue was 1.38, i.e. this condition also increases the possibility of making a mistake, but not as critical as burnout.
More than half of all medical errors (55%) did not lead to a deterioration of the patient’s health state. However, 4.5% of errors led to the death of patients, and 5.3% - to a serious permanent deterioration of the patient’s health state.
Researchers point out that the physical well-being of doctors is one of the key factors affecting the risk of medical error.