via Kevin, MD:
Much of the attention, rightly so, is on patients whenever a medical mistake is made.
But the toll it takes on doctors can be significant. I’ve often referred to the statistic, for instance, that 10 percent of doctors who are sued for medical malpractice contemplate suicide.
In a recent column in The New York Times, Pauline Chen examines how doctors fare after making a mistake. And the answer is, not good. In effect, “each of us was only one misstep away from that lonely and vicious cycle of errors that could unexpectedly and irrevocably spiral out of control.”
With all the attention today being focused on medical errors, one has to realize that a goal of zero mistakes is not feasible. Consequently, “you can’t go through training without making an error unless you are not taking care of patients,” and the stress of trying to do so builds up, leading to burnout and depression.
And when you consider the fact that clinicians who are depressed are twice as likely to make a medical mistake, it’s to everyone’s benefit that we better support doctors when the inevitable error occurs.
This is actually one of the main reasons why I stopped practicing medicine. I don’t know if I could live with myself if I made a terrible mistake that led to a child being harmed…
Doctors have it hard. I believe that most of them enter medicine for all the right reasons. They simply want to help people. But, once you start practicing and are on your own, you are literally one step away from a potential career ender. This could be a mistake or a greedy stranger that you literally just met. It’s a tough career in our litigious culture.
The best way to solve this lawsuit problem is to have real relationships with your patients. It’s much easier to sue when you don’t know the person you’re suing. When you have to sue a professional you know who has cared about you for quite some time and made an honest mistake, it’s much, much harder. Especially when that doctors says they are sorry for making a mistake.
Since relationships between doctors and patients are dwindling due to the assembly line nature of our quantity-driven assembly line Sickness Industry, I think the number of lawsuits will continue to rise.
However, the cost of malpractice and the total payouts across the nation accounts for less than 2% of total healthcare costs per year. But…the practice of defensive medicine is estimated at about 40% of the cost of healthcare in America.