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Medical Errors Increase Physicians' Stress Level

Armen Hareyan's picture

Physicians who make or come close to making medical mistakes oftenexperience an upswing in occupational stress, according to a surveyreleased on Wednesday, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. Results of the survey will be published in the August edition of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

Forthe survey, 3,171 physicians in St. Louis, Seattle and Canada respondedto surveys that researchers mailed or e-mailed to them. Of thephysicians participating in the survey, 2,909 said they had beeninvolved in a serious or minor medical error or a near miss.

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Sixty-onepercent of those physicians said they experienced increased stressabout the possibility of future errors, while 44% said they lostconfidence in their professional capabilities. In addition, 42%reported having sleep problems, and the same percentage said they grewless satisfied with their jobs after the incident.

Accordingto the survey, physicians involved with a serious medical error weremost likely to report higher levels of occupational stress, althoughone-third of physicians involved in near misses also reported higherstress.

Amy Waterman, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louisand lead author of the study, said the survey findings highlight theneed for hospitals to provide support to physicians after medicalerrors, which she said could push them to quit, become depressed orcommit other errors. Among physicians participating in the survey, 10%said hospitals offered sufficient resources to help them manage stressstemming from medical errors (Tanner, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 7/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.