Frequency of Burnout, Sleepiness and Depression in Emergency Medicine Residents with Medical Errors in the Emergency Department

Alireza Aala, Jafar Tabrizi, Fatemeh Ranjbar, Samad Shams Vahdati, Neda Mohammadi


Aims: Medical error is a great concern of the patients and physicians. It usually occurs due to physicians’ exhaustion, distress and fatigue. In this study, we aimed to evaluate frequency of distress and fatigue among emergency medicine residents reporting a medical error.

Materials and Methods: The study population consisted of emergency medicine residents who completed an emailed questionnaire including self-assessment of medical errors, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score, the Maslach Burnout Inventory, and PRIME-MD validated depression screening tool.  

Results: In this survey, 100 medical errors were reported including diagnostic errors in 53, therapeutic errors in 24 and following errors in 23 subjects. Most errors were reported by males and third year residents. Residents had no signs of depression, but all had some degrees of sleepiness and burnout. There were significant differences between errors subtypes and age, residency year, depression, sleepiness and burnout scores (p<0.0001).  

Conclusion: In conclusion, residents committing a medical error usually experience burnout and have some grades of sleepiness that makes them less motivated increasing the probability of medical errors. However, as none of the residents had depression, it could be concluded that depression has no significant role in medical error occurrence and perhaps it is a possible consequence of medical error.


Keywords: Residents; Medical error; Burnout; Sleepiness; Depression

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