Study: Medical errors stress physicians

Many physicians who commit medical errors go through some serious personal pain, including higher anxiety and loss of sleep, job satisfaction and professional reputation. What's more, physicians who even come close to making a significant error may have similar symptoms, according to a new report in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Researchers surveyed 3,171 U.S. and Canadian physicians between July 2003 and June 2004. Of that number, 57 percent had been involved with a serious error, 36 percent with a minor error and 7 percent with a near miss. Not too surprisingly, the more serious the error was, the more the doctors worried about future errors and struggled with personal issues.

Compounding the problem, 90 percent of physicians surveyed said they didn't think their hospital or healthcare organization did enough to help them cope with stress related to medical errors. That's the case despite the fact physicians are willing to get help; 82 percent said they were interested in getting counseling after committing a serious error.

Hospital executives, this sounds like something to be addressed in short order. Medical errors are bad enough, but having a professionally and personally troubled physician soldier on and put patients at risk for more errors is worse.

To learn more about this study:
- read this Modern Healthcare article (reg. req.)

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