Your Rights Matter. Your Future Matters.
We Can Help.

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Medical Malpractice
  4.  » How demanding work schedules for doctors hurt their patients

How demanding work schedules for doctors hurt their patients

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Doctors have stressful careers, which is one reason why they make competitive wages. However, the days where a doctor actually received most of the profit for the services they provide their patients have long since passed. Most modern physicians work for medical corporations, which means they are ultimately employees rather than independently practicing professionals.

The hospital or medical conglomerate that employs a doctor will typically impose certain requirements, including an obligation to see numerous patients a day. According to data collected in 2018, the average physician sees approximately 20 patients a day and will work 51 hours a week. Overall, they are responsible for the management of the health care needs of between 1,800 and 2,000 patients.

Unfortunately, all of that demand on a doctor’s time affects how much care they can provide their patients. How do those work demands diminish the standard of care people receive?

The math is not in favor of individual patients

If a doctor puts in 51 hours a week, that means they work just over 10 hours a day. They will probably spend roughly a quarter of that time doing paperwork. That leaves between seven and eight hours, on average, for them to interact with, diagnose and make treatment plans for roughly 20 patients. They will have a little over 20 minutes to handle every aspect of a patient’s visit.

The average patient may only get a few minutes of time with their doctor. Even if they present a unique situation with no clear solution, doctors may feel rushed and may simply guess so that they can move on to the next patient.

The time pressure that employment arrangements place on many physicians also limits their ability to actually review someone’s medical records before talking with them. A physician could easily miss an issue, like a known interaction between one of your current prescriptions and a drug they want you to start after this visit.

Stressed doctors make preventable mistakes

When doctors have to rush from patient to patient, the quality of care they provide will inevitably suffer.

Not only do they not have the necessary time to really dedicate themselves to each patient’s case, but the stress and exhaustion that they suffer will impact their cognition and their job performance. An exhausted, rushed doctor is more likely to overlook an obvious warning sign or make a mistake in judgment.

Realizing how modern medical settings increase your risk of medical malpractice can make you a better advocate for yourself when you need to see a doctor.