July 10, 2018

Physician burnout, well-being linked to medical errors

By: Judy Mathias
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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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