Residency

Medical errors linked to fatigue and burnout, study says

Residency Program Insider, October 6, 2009

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A new study confirms that fatigue and distress are associated with residents’ self-reported medical errors.

Researchers surveyed residents quarterly, asking them to report self-assessed medical errors quality of life, and fatigue. Each quarter, the residents also completed standardized questionnaires measuring burnout, depression, and sleepiness, according to the study, which was published in the Sept. 23 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Thirty-nine percent of the 356 respondents reported making at least one major error during the study period (2003-2008). According to the JAMA study, fatigue, lower quality of life, burnout, depressive symptoms and other signs of distress, independently led to increased rates of self-reported major medical errors among medical residents.

"Our results support this but suggest that specific attention to promoting resident well-being is needed as well," said lead researcher Dr. Colin P. West, MD, in a HealthDay News article. "We don't know enough about effective ways to promote physician well-being, however, and further research is needed to answer this question."



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