Once somebody becomes a medical doctor, he or she has typically completed over a decade of education in the field. The path to this profession is stringent for a reason—the task of doctors is to care for people's lives and well-being. With a responsibility this serious, it is imperative that providers be experts. The prestige of the position lends some patients to develop the impression that doctors cannot make errors.
On the contrary, doctors are entirely susceptible to many of the same factors that compromise the work performance of less revered positions. The following are three examples of how common problems can compromise doctors' work performance.
1. Drug or alcohol use
People often consider addiction to drugs or alcohol and working as a doctor to be mutually exclusive. According to the Los Angeles Times, as many as 15 percent of doctors may be drug addicts. This does not account for the many more who struggle with alcoholism. It is tragically true that such substance abuse issues can lead to errors on the job, which then seriously harm patients.
2. Exhaustion and drowsiness
Doctors are notoriously expected to work long hours and difficult shifts. The intensive workload combined with the taxing schedule can understandably lead to exhaustion. Doctors who work odd hours, too, may be susceptible to drowsiness. Both of these problems are virtually ubiquitous amongst medical professionals, and both also dramatically increase the likelihood that an error will occur.
3. Negligence and mistakes
Sometimes there is no reason for medical malpractice other than simple human error. Like any other person, a doctor can face distractions and make a mistake. In the health care field, though, a mistake is likely to have much more serious consequences than in another field. A patient may receive harm as a result of a minor distraction. Negligence—whether intentional or not—should not be overlooked when it comes to patient care.