Doctors say fatigue main culprit behind medical negligence

Mustafa Mansoor, head of the Jordan Association for Protection Against Medical Errors, claimed that he lost most of his vision due to medical malpractice. (Photo: Unsplash)
Mustafa Mansoor, head of the Jordan Association for Protection Against Medical Errors, claimed that he lost most of his vision due to medical malpractice. (Photo: Unsplash)
AMMAN — Medical malpractice can leave a patient scarred for life, but proving negligence on the part of a doctor or nurse can be hard to do, leaving patients out to dry during a time when doctors say the pandemic has pushed them to their limits.اضافة اعلان

Mustafa Mansoor, head of the Jordan Association for Protection Against Medical Errors, claimed that he lost most of his vision due to medical malpractice.

“I pressed charges 11 years ago after losing vision fully in my right eye, with only 3 percent remaining in the left eye, and my claim remains in court to this day,” he told Jordan News. “This was my incentive to establish the association to encourage patients to speak up about their cases of medical negligence.”

There are laws and regulations to protect people from malpractice in Jordan, but Mansoor said that lengthy court proceedings can drag on for years sometimes, dissuading people from pressing charges.

According to Article 5 of the Medical Liability Law, service providers are required to perform according to the requirements of the morals, accuracy, and loyalty of the profession. 

As the Medical Liability Law states, medical negligence occurs when providers, including doctors, orthodontists, nurses, anesthesiologists, and psychologists do not meet a professional standard, which results in a patient being harmed. 

“There is a difference between a medical error and a medical complication. A medical error is (caused by) negligence by the doctor. If negligence by the doctor is proven, then it is a medical error. If not, it is a medical complication,” ophthalmologist Othman Abbadi said in an interview with Jordan News

Ahmad Sarahneh, head of the health committee at the Lower House said that “Postoperative medical complications are far more common than medical negligence, and are inevitable. Some of those include surgical errors such as internal bleeding during surgery, operation wound infection, and birth injuries, such as excessive bleeding during or after childbirth.”

And while doctors are not held accountable for medical complications, they are responsible for medical malpractice, negligence, or errors. 

“Three major elements are leading causes of medical errors including the lack of experience on the part of the medical staff; unreasonable hours of work leading to fatigue, the inability to resume efficiency in providing medical care to the patient, and treating patients outside of one’s medical specialty,” added Sarahneh. 

Amid the pandemic and a surge in patients, fatigue has been one of the leading causes of medical errors, according to general doctor Mohammad Rasool Tarawneh.

“One of the leading causes of medical negligence recently has been the exhaustion and burnout of many doctors during the pandemic, and the high demand of medical care from patients, with the low supply of medical staff and medical equipment,” Tarawneh said in an interview with Jordan News. 

Tarawneh added that an increase in medical staff and beds in medical institutions could improve the efficiency of operations and ensure the patient’s safety. In addition, working hours must be reasonable, and enough break time is mandatory for the medical staff, especially in crowded hospitals. 

Abbadi agreed, claiming that he regularly receives 25 patients, and on some days 50, during which he experiences fatigue.

“It is crucial to limit the number of working hours and the number of patients per day to prevent burnout, and to ensure that the patient is receiving the proper care without risking the presence of any medical malpractice,” said Abbadi. 

When it comes to dealing with cases of malpractice, Jordan does have laws and regulations protecting patients.

“Cases of medical malpractice are dealt with in court, in the Ministry of Health, or in the Medical Syndicate. A committee is formed to concur whether this is a medical error and examine its complications,” said Sarahneh. 

Mohammad Barbarawi, chairman of the Jordanian Doctor’s Syndicate’s committee for establishing the profession, said that a failure to provide patients with necessary treatment options, whether surgically or medically, increases the incidence of a medical error. 

As such, poor medical performance could lead to minor complications, major complications, or in some cases, death, and courts in Jordan deal with each case differently.

“In the event of a medical error, the complainant's statements are heard, and the patient’s file is requested to be examined fully from the beginning of the treatment to the stage of complaint, and in the case of any witnesses, they are summoned, and regulations and laws govern the final verdict,” said Barbarawi.

In the syndicate’s law, penalties and punishments range from warnings, revocations of medical licenses and certificates, suspensions, compensatory fines, and prison sentences that may range from weeks to months, depending on the severity of the situation and harm suffered by the patient. 

“In the case of recurrence of a medical error, the physician will be suspended from working for a period of time until further notice by the court, or his/her medical license will be withdrawn,” said Sarahneh. 

Barbarawi added that Jordanian doctors suffer from low pay, which does not match up with the six years of medical school along with a year in a residency program, unpaid internships, and hours they have to work, which can sometimes. 

However, Barbarawi added that the Doctors’ Syndicate is not enough to regulate the sector fully and “an independent and strict institution must be created to monitor each doctor separately.''

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