Speedy Exams & Paperwork: Too Much for Med Students

Imagine sitting in a crowded emergency room or doctor’s office waiting room, watching the second hand tick away on the clock, wondering when you’ll finally get your turn to be seen by the doctor. Your name eventually gets called back, you gather your things, and make your way back to an exam room. But once you arrive, you have to wait some more. Finally, a doctor comes over, asks a few simple questions that a nurse already asked, writes a few things down, and then turns to leave. This happens more times than any of us would care to admit. The question is: could these extended wait times, and then shortened doctor-patient interactions be a problem? Are they the source of any of the 3000+ Maryland medical malpractice incidents over the last decade or so?

A series of recently conducted studies among medical training programs nationwide has shown that doctors-in-training (e.g. medical residents) are spending less time now with patients than ever before. The conclusion at the end of these studies found that, on average, medical interns only spend about 8 minutes with each patient they saw. This equals out to only about 12% of their time at work.

Researchers studied medical interns in facilities all over the country, observing their day-to-day responsibilities in areas like:

  • Meeting with family members and loved ones
  • Entering patient medical information into the database
  • Face-to-face exams with patients
  • Discussing treatment options with fellow physicians
  • Personal time eating, sleeping, and walking around the hospital.

The findings indicate that the amount of doctor-patient interaction has been decreasing over the last 20 years.

One contributing factor to this “rushed patient care time” seems to be due, in part, to recent changes in electronic record keeping. Because of these changes, interns must spend a significant portion of their day documenting data and inputting it into a computer. When that responsibility is paired with recent laws that limit on-duty working hours for medical students, the actual time left for students to gain valuable hands-on experience becomes extremely limited. Medical students were also found to spend a large portion of their work attending to duties indirectly related to their medical responsibilities. They include:

  • Patient transport (even through most hospitals hire people for the job)
  • Handwritten note taking and then turning around and re-entering the information digitally in a computer
  • Reading patient charts

Each of these takes away from the medical students’ primary responsibilities of identifying and treating patient medical problems, and gaining crucial experience for the future. With all of these distractions, medical errors by interns in Maryland and Virginia can happen before anyone can realize the truth.

Negligent Medical Diagnoses

Incorrect medical diagnoses can change a patient’s life forever. Improperly ordered prescription medications can be deadly. Lives can be lost, simply because a doctor was preoccupied with entering all of notes into a computer database before the end of the day.

Our team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Lewis & Tompkins has a history of successfully fighting for the rights of patients who’ve lost so much due to a medical provider’s negligence. Call 202-296-0666 today to schedule a confidential meeting. Remember, there is no fee for you until you collect compensation from them.