The following is a brief summary of the findings of this study published by BMJ in Online First.
The authors’ objective was to determine the frequency of depression and burnout among residents in pediatrics and to establish if there was a relationship between these disorders and medication errors. They studied 123 residents in three residency programs in the United States.
Their findings indicated that 20% of the participating residents met their criteria for depression and 74% met their criteria for burnout. Those residents identified as depressed made 6.2 times as many medication errors as the non-depressed residents. Burnout was not associated with medication errors.
“Recent studies have shown that the working conditions of healthcare providers --including sleep deprivation, and overwork -- contribute substantively to this problem. ....Mental health may be a more important contributor to patient safety than previously suspected.” The authors recommended that better efforts should be made to screen residents for depression and to ensure they receive proper treatment.