Survey shows rise in burnout can contribute to medical errors

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

When seeking medical care in South Carolina, people automatically associate it with doctors and nurses. However, it is a chain-like process where others – like physician assistants– are intimately involved with assessment, care and treatment. If anyone makes a mistake, it can cause illness, injury, a worsened condition and even death.

This can warrant a legal claim for medical malpractice. Being aware of trends in how those in the medical industry might be negatively impacted by circumstances and make missteps is a fundamental part of recognizing when an error might have been made. Gathering evidence can be crucial to moving forward to hold these individuals and facilities accountable.

Research suggests physician assistants increasingly susceptible to burnout

According to the Journal of the American Academy of PAs, more than one of every three PAs meets the technical requirements to be categorized as suffering from burnout. These are correlated to PAs making medical mistakes and suffering from depression.

The results stem from a study by researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville. The authors of the study conducted a survey with 858 PAs. Through the Stanford Professional Fulfillment Index, medical professionals’ responses are used to gauge their current state. It also tries to find solutions to help medical professionals get into a better frame of mind.

Using this information, it was found that 34% of PAs could be viewed as suffering from burnout. In addition, 46% had work exhaustion and 30% interpersonal disengagement. Approximately 6% showed signs of depression. This is fewer than the statistics show for physicians and for the population; 13% showed anxiety levels that ranged from moderate to severe. Eighty percent confessed to having made at least one medical error.

Still, more than half said they felt they had achieved professional fulfillment. Healthcare is an industry that has a substantial amount of burnout.

Considering all sources of a medical error is key when assessing it

Any of these factors could contribute to a PA making a mistake that could result in patients being misdiagnosed, getting the wrong type of treatment for their issues and suffering myriad adverse effects that could cause substantial problems – and even death – in the future via medical malpractice. Physicians and nurses rely on PAs to get the basic information and play a formative role in the care people are given. If they make a mistake, it can hinder the entire assessment.

For example, if a patient expresses that they are suffering from a symptom and that is misunderstood or not accurately recorded, then the physician or nurse could miss it, sending the entire treatment protocol in the wrong direction.

Those who think they have been harmed by a PA’s mistake should know how to recognize what might have happened and take the necessary steps to consider all the options, possibly in a legal claim. Having professional assistance is key.


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