Doctors Dealing With COVID: Are They Making More Mistakes?
It is no secret that COVID is hurting families around the globe. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing to new highs as people are draining their savings accounts just to get through the week. Combine that with the onslaught of protocols on what to do and where to go when you are potentially exposed and it begs this question: Are those who are charged with healing us actually making more mistakes due to the stress, confusion, and long hours brought on by COVID? Is there a connection between COVID-19 and malpractice?
COVID on the Rise
It is hard to believe we are already nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic. Now there are nearly 9 million cases in the United States alone—with thousands of newly diagnosed patients daily. The protocols that were in place when news of this virus broke are now outdated and seemingly useless, and while some of the world may seem to have gone back to a semi-normal workday, others like doctors and nurses are continuing to stare down a potentially deadly virus.
Doctors, along with most health care staff, have been deemed essential, and rightfully so. However, this title earns them a long list of additional responsibilities to take on. It may surprise you to learn that doctors are still seeing their normal caseload of patients. A large percentage of patients have been shifted to “telehealth” appointments, opening the door wide for trouble. Not only are doctors and nurses inundated with trying to navigate new software and protocols for these online appointments, but there are also many patients who either don’t feel comfortable with this or who are unable to be thoroughly evaluated over the phone. For example, doctors can’t conduct proper physicals for surgical clearance via telehealth. This gap in care paves an unsettling foundation for patients to seek out a personal injury attorney.
The Role of Stress in COVID-19 and Malpractice
In addition to telehealth visits, doctors are also working longer hours at a time, handling more shifts during the week, and seeing more critical patients in both hospital and clinic settings. Patient ratios were already at critical levels prior to the pandemic, and the consistent influx of patients has certainly not helped those numbers improve.
In 2018, before the COVID chaos broke out, there was a study conducted on the levels of stress and burnout in doctors. It showed that nearly half of the physicians who responded were feeling some sort of burnout. In addition, their depression and anxiety levels were elevated, and this can directly influence the quality of care they are able to provide patients. This essentially becomes a vicious cycle that leads to increasingly worsened patient care. You can only imagine the undoubtedly negative impact COVID has had on this. Doctors are working around the clock to fight for their patients who are struggling with a disease we know little about. It would be a shock to think they weren’t making mistakes in those conditions.
Should We Be Worried About COVID-19 and Malpractice?
While the medical errors being made are assumed to be unintentional, it doesn’t erase the very real fact that they are happening. Doctors are up to 63% more likely to make medical mistakes as their stress levels rise. That equates to doctors making potentially life-threatening mistakes in nearly two out of every three patients’ care. Good intentions aside, these mistakes aren’t something to take lightly. No one deserves to pay the price for medical errors made by the very people we trust to provide us with quality health care.
If you feel you’ve been harmed as a result of doctor burnout, contact a personal injury attorney who has experience in pursuing medical malpractice claims. The professionals at Rebenack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. – RAM Law can help get you back on your feet and ensure you aren’t enduring needless suffering because of the mistakes made by a doctor who treated you. Call us today at (732) 247-3600 to find out how we can help you seek compensation for your losses.