Depressed doctors more likely to make medication errors

Wednesday 10th September, 2008

depressionDoctors in the US who are new to profession and suffering with depression are six times more likely to make errors with medication than those doctors who aren’t depressed.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was carried out in three US children’s hospitals and involved 123 paediatric residents.

The doctors were questioned about their mental health, working environment and medical error frequency. Results were then compared against an independent review carried out by a team of doctors and nurses.

The research discovered that 74% of residents were suffering with ‘burn out’ and 20% were depressed. Those who were burned out didn’t make medication errors any more frequently than other doctors but residents who were depressed were making errors over 6 times more frequently than those who weren’t depressed.

Depressed doctors were also more likely to report poor health, lack of concentration at work and working while in an impaired state more than twice in the previous month.

In the US, an estimated 400,000 people every year suffer drug effects that are preventable and 98,000 people die. Errors are typically attributed to lack of sleep, lack of leisure time and other stresses related to medical residency.



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