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Are Medical Residents Responsible For Medical Errors In The U.s.?

  • On Behalf Of Colton Holm
  • Published: May 25, 2017

Each and every day, residents in Montana and elsewhere visit medical professionals to help with an ailment or an injury. Whether it is a yearly checkup at a physician’s office, for the treatment of an illness at a clinic or for medical treatment of a serious injury or ailment in an emergency room, the assistance of medical professionals is necessary. Patients rely on their training and expertise, and even if they are being seen and treated by a medical resident, patients trust the resident and their supervisors to deliver quality medical care.

The unfortunate truth that comes with being treated by a doctor is that they are human and can commit errors. This means that a patient could suffer from a simple or minor error, resulting in significant harm to the patient. And, now that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approved first-year residents to work 24-hour shifts from their once limited 16 hours, this could give rise to safety concerns.

Are medical residents responsible for medical errors in the U.S.? A major reason that the 24-hour shifts permitted for first-year residents were changed to 16-hours six years ago was the concern that it could cause medical errors. Many residents are overworked and sleep deprived, thus increasing their chances to cause medical errors. This was a major reason for changing the maximum shifts to 16 hours.

Many patients are concerned that these changes will increase the chances of medical negligence. Based on a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S. occur because of medical errors. These could be related to misdiagnoses, delayed treatment, unnecessary treatment or errors related to prescriptions or surgical procedures.

When medical errors occur, an injured patient should understand that there are rights and recourses afforded to them. A medical malpractice claim could help the patient recover compensation, which could address losses and damages related to medical bills, lost wages and rehabilitation.

Source:, “Safety questions raised as hours set to increase for medical residents,” Liv Osby, May 9, 2017

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