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The pressures and strains on our doctors

“I want to be able to spend time with each person, to make a diagnosis, not just a best guess” notes an anonymous writer under the title “What I’m really thinking: the A&E doctor” 

It appears that the current culture in which doctors practice medicine is under constant and extreme time pressures. Many professions are practiced with deadlines and with a clock hanging over our heads but should this consistently be the way that our doctors are forced to practice, given that they are dealing with human lives?

Pressure which is consistent and relentless will inevitably lead to doctors trying to look for short cuts in the way they practice, and most worryingly lead to excessive tiredness whilst at work.

I am sure one can appreciate how easy the combination of exhaustion and constantly having to rush can lead to scenarios where a doctor fails to notice important details, for example, the decimal point in a blood result or the incorrect dose of a drug being prescribed.

In medical negligence cases I have come across, it is frustrating for us and the patient/relatives to clearly see errors that were so easily avoidable, if only:

  • More attention been paid to what the patient was saying about the symptoms
  • The examination been performed fully
  • The observations performed (such as blood pressure and pulse readings) been reviewed
  • The investigations been followed up
  • Different teams involved in a patient’s care communicated with each other.

It must be the case that when an error is that simple, it happened due to lack of time. A simple error can have catastrophic consequences on human life.

The writer in the above link further notes “I want to have the energy to empathise, but I cannot muster it; the endless tide of misery, anxiety and misfortune has already worn me down. I’m exhausted. It is demoralising to start a shift only to find that the department already has a four –hour wait to see a doctor

Given that good health is at the centre of what one can achieve in life/one’s ability to enjoy day to day living, should it be the case that our doctors work under such conditions?