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Doctors’ workload impacts quality of care, leads to medical errors

The economic state during the last few years has resulted in many companies having to make cuts. Oftentimes, such budgetary and staffing cuts mean that companies must attempt to do more with less in order to make ends meet. A recent study proves that hospitals and doctors have also been impacted negatively by the economic downturn, leaving many patient safety advocates concerned about a possible increase in medical mistakes.

For the study, researchers questioned 500 doctors about workload and work environment. Alarmingly roughly 40 percent of those doctors questioned admitted that they took on more patients than they were able to safety manage at least once per month.

What's more, roughly 25 percent of doctors admitted that their hectic workload prevented them from being able to adequately discuss and counsel patients about treatment options or care plans. Additionally, more than 20 percent of doctors said they routinely ordered unnecessary medical tests to compensate for their lack of time in being able to examine and diagnose patients' conditions.

The results of the study are troubling and prove that a doctor's workload directly impacts the quality of care they provide. Even more troubling is that roughly 8 percent of doctors admitted that their workload contributed to a patient being harmed or even dying.

Sadly, many doctors continue to take on more patients and bigger workloads despite knowing their performance as a physician suffers. Changes in health care and physician reimbursement has created an environment in which many doctors and hospitals feel pressured to take on more patients. Unfortunately, patients are the ultimate losers in these situations.

Individuals who have been injured or have a loved one that suffered harm or death as a result of a medical mistake, misdiagnosis or surgical error would be wise to consult with a legal professional. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can provide counsel on whether legal action is appropriate.

Source: Yahoo News, "Overworked Doctors May Jeopardize Patient Safety," Rachel Rettner, Jan. 28, 2013

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