Doctor Burnout Leads to More Medical Mistakes

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a large number of doctors in the U.S. suffer from burnout at work, which can lead to dangerous mistakes as well as medical malpractice lawsuits.

The study surveyed close to 7,300 doctors, and found that almost half suffered from at least one symptom of burnout. Emotional exhaustion was found in 38 percent of the doctors, and there were high depersonalization scores in 30 percent, which is double the rate in other professions. Depersonalization refers to a tendency to view patients less as human beings and more as objects.

Physicians working in the front lines of care, such as emergency rooms, family medicine or general internal medicine, were most likely to suffer from fatigue. In these specialties, the rate of doctors experiencing burnout was close to 60 percent.

More than 40 percent of the physicians surveyed reported dissatisfaction with their work-life balance, compared to 23 percent for other working adults.

One cause of burnout is long work hours. The average work week for doctors was 50 hours, and nearly 60 percent reported working a 60 hour week.

The authors of the study said that the burnout rate was increasing at an alarming rate, as polls in previous years had measured the doctor burnout rate at 30 to 40 percent. According to the authors, physician fatigue affects patient care, as doctors suffering from burnout are more prone to making errors, which can cause patients to suffer, and lead to medical malpractice lawsuits.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit

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