Mental health of doctors reflects on patient safety


New York : The mental health of doctors and their working conditions play a major role in patient safety, according to a new study.

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Young trainee doctors who are depressed are likely to commit more medication errors than others, the study in the US suggests.

As many as 98,000 patients die due to medication errors in the United States each year.

The stresses of resident training, including lack of sleep and leisure time, are among the most commonly cited reasons for such errors, the background information in the study said.

Researchers from Harvard University studied about 123 paediatric residents at three children’s hospitals and found 20 percent of them were depressed, and 74 percent were burned out.

During the study period, the residents made a total of 45 medications errors, and those who were depressed made 6.2 times more medication errors, reported health portal Health Day.

However, burnout did not appear to affect medical error rate, said the scientists in their study published in the online Feb 7 issue of the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said more needs to be done to study and improve the mental health and working conditions of doctors.

In an accompanying editorial, researchers from Scotland’s University of Aberdeen said the latest findings were non conclusive and larger trials need to be conducted to pinpoint the factors that cause medication errors.