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3 ways overworked doctors could actually harm their patients

A job in medicine is a high-demand career. Physicians work long hours and often have to makes sense of seemingly unconnected symptoms to help diagnose their patients.

Unfortunately, physicians are often under intense pressure as employees of large, corporate medical practices or hospitals. The stress they experience through their work and the demands made by their employer can compromise the kind of care that a physician provides to their patients.

Overworked doctors don’t know a patient’s details

Not that long ago, someone’s primary care physician or family doctor knew their medical background and even their family history. The same doctor might see multiple generations of a family, making it easier for them to spot certain trends within the family or apply knowledge from one person to another person’s symptoms. These days, doctors have to carry such a heavy patient load that they may not remember the names of their patients, let alone their family histories.

Doctors don’t feel like they have the time to listen

To reach an accurate diagnosis, your doctor has to understand your symptoms and ways you have tried to address those symptoms. Unfortunately, during a standard appointment, you can expect that your doctor will only listen to you for about 11 seconds before they jump to a conclusion or decide to interrupt. When doctors have so many appointments that they can’t adequately listen to their patients, they could make a big mistake regarding a diagnosis or treatment of that patient.

Doctors may not fully review someone’s medical record

Your doctor used to at least need to pick up the physical file that holds your medical records and open it to look over your history on their way to your room. Now, they might just glance at a computer screen that offers a brief explanation of your last appointment and any major red flags.

Your doctor could easily overlook important details in your family history or in your medical past that affect the diagnosis they reach or the treatment you receive. They could also potentially prescribe a medication that has a known interaction with another drug you take because they don’t fully review your medical records.

Recognizing how rushed, overworked doctors can make mistakes will make it easier for you to spot and push back against medical malpractice as a patient.