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Doctor Burnout May Double Risk of Medical Errors

The United States leads the world in medical errors, and this Mayo Clinic study may have uncovered at least part of the reason why: physician burnout and depression. Medical residents who reported making a medical error in the previous three months (which was nearly 15 percent of the participants) experienced substantially higher levels of burnout and were more than three times as likely to have a screening test indicate possible depression.

Meanwhile, residents who scored high on burnout measures were twice as likely to report an error in the next three months than those with low burnout, signaling that physicians with symptoms of burnout or depression may be more likely to make a medical error in the future.

Nearly 100,000 people die each year because of medical errors. Aside from adjusting your lifestyle to keep yourself as healthy as possible (and therefore out of the doctor's office), you may be interested in this recent study that found the safest time of day to have surgery.

Journal of the American Medical Association September 2006;296:1071-1078

Science Daily September 8, 2006

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