Three years into the pandemic, Queensland’s junior doctors are increasingly concerned that overwork and fatigue may lead to them making medical mistakes, according to AMA Queensland and ASMOFQ’s 2022 Resident Hospital Health Check.
The survey of doctors in training at Queensland hospitals found, statewide, 58 per cent were concerned about making a clinical error due to fatigue caused by hours worked, up from 51 per cent last year and 48 per cent in 2020.
At Ipswich Hospital that figure was slightly lower, at 50 per cent.
This year the hospital was given an overall grade of C+, an improvement on last year.
CDT chair Dr Rob Nayer says the steady increase in concern about possible fatigue-induced clinical errors highlights the toll COVID has taken on the medical profession and the failure of hospital authorities to take enduring action on both the hours worked and the quality of formal and bedside teaching and training.
“Every year, more and more doctors in training raise fatigue and overwork as a key concern and the pandemic has exacerbated the pressure,” Dr Nayer says.
“This year we have seen unprecedented stresses on our hospitals, doctors and all healthcare workers. We know ambulance ramping and access block remain big issues around the state and it’s really showing a negative impact on the frontline health care providers, which is frequently our junior doctor workforce.
“Doctors, nurses and all healthcare staff are exhausted and now, more than ever, hospitals need to provide a safe, supportive environment for staff.
“AMA Queensland will be taking these results to Tuesday’s Health Workforce Summit. We need urgent and sustainable action to train and retain our doctors.”
Dr Nayer acknowledges the efforts of Ipswich Hospital in achieving an A- grade for how it deals with the hours and overtime worked by doctors in training.
No Ipswich Hospital respondents reported working up to or more than 24 hours of overtime per fortnight and only 12 per cent were concerned that claiming overtime might negatively affect their assessment.
But the Resident Hospital Heath Check gave Ipswich a C- for wellbeing and workplace culture.
Only 12 per cent of Ipswich Hospital respondents were quite or extremely satisfied with their formal training and just 15 per cent with their bedside training – respectively, the lowest and second-lowest scores in the state.
Less than 10 per cent of respondents were quite or extremely satisfied with hospital facilities.
Dr Nayer says these findings were particularly important ahead of the summit.
“Poor training leaves junior doctors feeling unprepared, which affects mental health and contributes to their fear of making mistakes.
“If we’re not training our doctors properly, we won’t have a future generation of specialists to give Queenslanders the high-quality healthcare they deserve.”
The survey highlighted some encouraging improvements at the state level, with a slight drop in the percentage of respondents experiencing bullying, discrimination and/or harassment and a rise in confidence that reported incidents are being appropriately addressed by hospitals.