July 10, 2018

Physician burnout, well-being linked to medical errors

By: Judy Mathias

Editor’s Note

In this national study, physician burnout, fatigue, and work unit safety grades were associated with major medical errors.

Of 6,695 physicians in active practice surveyed, 6,586 provided information:

  • 54.3% reported symptoms of burnout
  • 32.8% reported excessive fatigue
  • 6.5% reported recent suicidal ideation
  • 3.9% reported a poor or failing patient safety grade in their primary work area
  • 10.5% reported a major medical error in the prior 3 months.

Those reporting errors were more likely to have symptoms of burnout (77.6% vs 51.5%), fatigue (46.6% vs 31.2%), and recent suicidal ideation (12.7% vs 5.8%).

In multivariate analysis, errors were independently more likely to be reported by physicians with incrementally worse work unit safety grades.

Interventions to reduce medical errors must address physician well-being and work unit safety, the authors say.


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