It's Not the Trial Lawyers' Fault

October 26, 2007

Medical News: Errors by Resident Physicians Often Result of Inadequate Supervision

Medical errors by resident physicians in U.S. hospitals stem from lack of judgment and technical competence but also from inadequate supervision by senior physicians, a study of malpractice claims found.Among 240 claims in which trainees (mainly residents) were judged to have played an important role, errors of judgment was the most frequent contributing factor, found in 72% of cases, Hardeep Singh, M.D., M.P.H., of Baylor College of Medicine here, and colleagues, reported in the Oct. 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Breakdowns in teamwork was a close second at 70% and lack of technical competence was found in 58% of cases, the researchers said.

Trainees are inexperienced, often tired, and occasionally unsupervised, and they tend to work at medical centers treating the sickest patients, the researchers noted. Yet there has been limited information about the types and causes of trainees’ errors.

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