Study suggests medical errors due to doctor burn-out

A new study by the Mayo Clinic suggests major medical errors reported by American surgeons are the result of burn-out and depression.

Nearly 8,000 surgeons participated in the confidential survey. About 9 percent say they made a major medical error in the three months before the survey.

Nearly 70 percent of those surgeons attributed the error to their own burn-out rather than a systemic cause.

Mayo Clinic Hematologist Tait Shanafelt said a lot of that burnout is a result of increased patient loads and expectations of high productivity.

"Oftentimes, physicians may be reluctant to seek professional mental health care, because they're concerned about potential repercussion for their license," Shanafelt said.

"I think we have to realize that at some level there's a ceiling to what can be pushed onto the physician's plate, without potentially causing a burnout and ultimately impacting the patients' safety."

Mayo conducted the study in collaboration with Johns Hopkins and the American College of Surgeons.

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