Karina Pereira-Lima, PhD Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Association Between Physician Depression and Medical Errors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Karina Pereira-Lima, PhD Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Dr. Pereira-Lima

Karina Pereira-Lima, PhD
Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Questions regarding the magnitude and direction of the associations between physician depressive symptoms and medical errors remain open in recent literature.

By pooling data from 11 studies involving 21,517 physicians, we were able to verify that depressive symptoms among physicians were associated with increased risk of reporting medical errors (RR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.63 – 2.33).

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Examination of longitudinal studies demonstrated that the association between physician depressive symptoms and medical errors was bidirectional.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The association of physicians’ depressive symptoms with perceived medical errors strongly suggests that physician well-being is critical to patient care. Given that depressive symptoms are highly prevalent among physicians, these data underscore the need for systematic efforts to prevent or reduce depressive symptoms among these professionals.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies should investigate the degree to which interventions for reducing physician depressive symptoms could mitigate medical errors and improve patient care. Future research is also needed to evaluate the associations of physician depressive symptoms with objective measures of medical errors. 

Citation:

Pereira-Lima K, Mata DA, Loureiro SR, Crippa JA, Bolsoni LM, Sen S. Association Between Physician Depressive Symptoms and Medical Errors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1916097. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16097 

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Last Modified: Nov 30, 2019 @ 8:33 pm

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1 Comment
  • Louise B Andrew MD JD
    Posted at 02:52h, 02 December

    The very FIRST research task for this young scientist (not an afterthought or task for future research to determine as suggested above) is to determine whether the self reported medical errors of physicians who also self report symptoms of depression represent actual, objective errors, or just false perceptions of possible error based on low self esteem or mood in individuals experiencing depressive symptoms. .

    She roundly conflated these two concepts in her paper, offered NO real evidence for doing so, and in so doing has caused a rash of journalists such as yourself to misinterpret and further publicize an exaggerated if not false conclusion, using eye catching but incorrect titles such as yours using terms “depression” (the paper did conflate, but largely concentrated on presence of “depressive symptoms”, which are suggestive but not diagnostic of actual depression) and “medical errors” when what was studied was (91%) “perceived medical errors”. Mostly in residents, and many of whom were not in the US.

    Also, Albert Wu and others have long since studied the depressive effects of Second Victim Syndrome for health care providers and described it as a potential “vicious cycle”. This newly introduced term “bidirectionality” really adds nothing to the field.