Depression in physicians linked to higher risk for medical errors

  • Pereira-Lima K & al.
  • JAMA Netw Open
  • 01/11/2019

  • Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • The risk for perceived medical errors was significantly more likely in physicians with a positive depression screening across all career stages.

Why this matters

  • Studies suggest that up to 251,000 hospitalized patients in the United States die each year from a preventable adverse event.

Study design

  • Systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 studies including 21,517 physicians.
  • Among the included studies, 7 studies were longitudinal (n=5595) and 4 were cross-sectional (n=15,922).
  • Funding: partly by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Research Institute.

Key results

  • Physician depressive symptoms were associated with an increased risk for perceived medical errors:
    • Relative risk (RR), 1.95 (95% CI, 1.63-2.33; high heterogeneity [I2], 82%; P<.001>
  • Pooled RR estimates:
    • Longitudinal studies: RR, 1.62 (95% CI, 1.43-1.84; I2, 13%; P=.33).
    • Cross-sectional studies: RR, 2.51 (95% CI, 2.20-2.83; I2, 45%; P=.14).
  • The association between physician depressive symptoms and medical errors is bidirectional:
    • Pooled results of 4 longitudinal studies (n=4462): RR, 1.67 (95% CI, 1.48-1.87; I2, 0%; P=.60).

Limitations

  • Self-reported measures were used.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm