Physician Burnout Among Physician Mothers May Cause Medical Errors

Medical malpractice claims in New York can arise from a wide variety of injuries caused by medical errors. Patients should be able to seek medical attention and treatment from their physicians without being concerned that the doctor will make a mistake that will cause serious harm. However, medical negligence happens more often than many patients might expect, and a physician’s error can result in devastating injuries. According to a recent article in Becker’s Clinical Leadership & Infection Control, female physicians who have kids at home may be more likely to suffer from job burnout and, as a result, more likely to be involved in medical errors.

Studies Suggest Physician Burnout May Result in Medical Mistakes 

The recent study cited above comes less than a year after a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine reported that “physician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions, if not more so.” That study intimated that one of the most important methods for reducing rates of medical mistakes has nothing to do with safety measures at hospitals. Rather, it concerns the way in which physicians and surgeons approach their jobs, and redesigning the types of schedules that doctors have to reduce burnout. In short, when a person feels burnout, she or he does not do a job to the best of his or her ability.

Now, the Becker’s article suggests that physician burnout may be particularly pronounced among female doctors who have minor children at home.

Assessing Gender and Physician Burnout

The recent study examined survey results from more than 5,700 female physicians across a wide variety of medical specialties, geographic locations, and types of practices. The survey results were anonymous so that the researchers could obtain truthful data from physicians. In total, 49 person of the doctors surveyed “reported involvement in a medical mistake during their career.” For those who indicated that they had been involved in a healthcare situation involving a medical error, 80 percent reported that they experienced guilt that led to additional burnout.

The study looked particularly at the “second victim” effect, or the psychological distress experienced by physicians who are responsible for medical mistakes. When a physician makes an error, that physician often feels guilty and anxious, and can be likely to experience burnout, which can in turn lead to additional medical mistakes.

Physician burnout can be tied to many different factors, including schedules, hours worked, and duties outside work. Female physicians who have young children at home, like women in other professional settings, often are tasked with being primary caregivers in addition to fulfilling their roles as physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare providers. When the stresses associated with both professional and domestic duties are combined with the anxiety tied to involvement in a medical mistake, female physicians can experience marked burnout.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in New York

Under New York law, an injured plaintiff has two years and six months to file a claim for compensation if she is injured by a healthcare provider’s mistake. An experienced New York medical malpractice attorney can help with your claim. Contact The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. today.