Association of Perceived Medical Errors with Resident Distress and Empathy: A Prospective Longitudinal Study

This study, published in JAMA, sought to assess the frequency of self-perceived medical errors among resident physicians and to determine the association of self-perceived medical errors with resident quality of life, burnout, depression, and empathy using validated metrics. Medical residents completed surveys that included self-assessment of medical errors and assessment of quality of life every 3 months. The residents were screened using the Maslach Burnout Inventory, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and a validated depression screening tool every 6 months. The study found that self-perceived medical errors are common among internal medicine residents and are associated with substantial subsequent personal distress. Furthermore, personal distress and decreased empathy are also associated with increased odds of future self-perceived errors, suggesting that perceived errors and distress may be related in a reciprocal cycle.