Depersonalization is One of the Biggest Threats to Patient Safety

June 24th, 2019 by Wapner Newman

Some of us can still remember the family doctor’s coming to our home with a little black bag and curing us with compassion, personal contact and concern, and probably a shot of penicillin.  Those days are long gone, with changes affecting clinical practice that include new payment and delivery approaches, electronic health records, patient portals, and publicly reported quality metrics.

Changes to modern medicine bring benefits such as amazing technology that reads scans quickly and accurately and high-powered medicines that cure dreaded diseases. However, many changes bring increased pressures on healthcare providers that create depersonalization of patients, and this depersonalization contributes to clinician burnout, resulting in harmful and even deadly medical errors.

For example, according to a study of burnout and medical errors among American surgeons from the National Institute of Health (NIH), depersonalization is one of the biggest threats to patient safety. The study concluded that major medical errors reported by surgeons are strongly related to a surgeon’s degree of burnout and their mental quality of life. The three areas of burnout are considered to be emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment, and commonly include feelings of depleted resources, being detached or callous, harboring negative attitudes toward others, and diminished feelings of accomplishment.

Errors resulting from burnout affect not only surgeons but other medical providers, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses. A May 2016 Johns Hopkins study indicated that 10 percent of all U.S. deaths are due to medical error, which has become the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer.

If you or a loved one has suffered harm or someone has died due to negligent medical errors from burned-out medical providers, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, due to the complexity and issues involving medical malpractice, your case must be handled correctly and competently to ensure you get the settlement you deserve.

The skilled and experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller are committed to giving your case individual attention. Our lawyers can provide you with dependable guidance, a listening ear, and strong legal strategies. We have helped hundreds of clients through the years to secure the compensation they deserve through our thorough and creative investigative legal solutions.

Please contact Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

According to Pennsylvania law, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional commits medical negligence by violating the generally accepted standard of care used by other medical professionals in the area.  The resulting injury must have been directly caused by the professional’s actions or omission of actions, and the injury must have led to damages.

Common Medical Errors

Among the most common medical errors are:

  • Making an incorrect diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or inappropriate treatment for the diagnosis
  • Prescribing wrong medication or dosage
  • Not considering a patient’s medical history
  • Surgical errors, doing unnecessary surgery or operating on the wrong body part
  • Laboratory errors or ignoring laboratory results
  • Lack of informed consent
  • Poor communication.

Factors Contributing to Burnout

Healthcare providers cite organizational factors as the highest contributors to burnout. Common complaints are:

  • too much charting
  • disrespect by others
  • mandated use of the EMR
  • feeling like a cog in the wheel
  • lack of autonomy
  • regulations
  • maintenance of certifications.

Costs of Burnout

  • Burned out providers are often less productive and may voluntarily reduce their work hours, terminate employment or retire early. This leaves patients with access problems and an added workload for other providers, which increases their chances of burnout as well.
  • Healthcare providers experiencing burnout may succumb to substance abuse, depression, and suicide.
  • Interactions with other healthcare team members may suffer.
  • Burned out providers are more likely to make medical errors and be sued.

What Compensation Can I Get?

If you win a medical malpractice case, you may receive compensation for the following:

1) Economic or monetary damages, including:

  • Medical expenses such as costs for doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation, therapy, and corrective surgeries
  • Time spent away from work, lost wages and loss of future wage horizon
  • Funeral costs.

2) Non-economic damages — Intangible losses such loss of life’s enjoyment, emotional distress and trauma, disfigurement, loss of consortium, companionship and enjoyment of life.

3) Punitive damages in rare cases where a medical professional acted in ways that are deemed malicious and reckless.

Taking Legal Action

If you or a loved one was seriously injured or someone has died due to medical errors, you should seek legal assistance to determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice case. The seasoned and compassionate Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller offer a free consultation to examine the facts of your situation.  Our unique legal approach helps ensure that no stone is left unturned as we investigate and document every detail relating to your claim and do everything possible to get you the settlement you deserve.

Don’t delay. Contact us online or call our offices today for your free consultation.