Burnout can be defined as emotional exhaustion with, cynicism about and lack of interest in one's job. Doctors are particularly at risk from burnout and a study of 7,905 surgeons by researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine has found that it, and depression, are associated with more medical errors than straightforward tiredness. Nine per cent of the surgeons said that they had made a major medical mistake in the previous three months and 40% of them said that they were burned out. A feeling of depersonalisation - seeing patients as objects rather than people - which is one of the components of burnout was associated with an increase in the likelihood of reporting an error. Emotional exhaustion was also associated with an increased likelihood of making mistakes. However, the number of nights on call per week and the number of hours worked were not associated with increased errors.
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