Is the focus on patient safety creating a generation of indecisive doctors who practice without confidence?

Is medical training taking a turn for the worse?

We are so focused on reducing medical errors, as we should, that doctors in training have no leeway to make a mistake. Often times, giving them that space is the only way to give them the confidence to become a competent physician.

Psychiatrist Richard Friedman is noticing that more of his residents are asking him for help, for seemingly routine issues.

“In the pursuit of patient safety,” he writes, “we have deliberately prevented residents from acting independently on their own judgment in situations where a patient poses a theoretical risk.”

The situation is likely to worsen as the pressure mounts to further limit resident training hours, which have been shown to only minimally impact patient safety, if at all.

What’s likely to happen is that we’re going to have a generation of doctors afraid to make the tough decisions, or as Dr. Friedman concludes, “a little more hesitant and uncertain than you might like.”

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