Introduction: Medical error is often a traumatic experience not only for patients but also for doctors. However, patients as victims get much more publicity than those responsible for actual errors. The authors of the study conducted research to learn about Polish doctors' opinions on and reactions to medical errors and how they affect their further professional activity and psychological status. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of involvement in medical errors of doctors of different specialties and different age.
Material and methods: The research was conducted in a group of 100 doctors of different specialties. Respondents anonymously completed an experimental survey comprising 6 groups of multiple choice questions concerning such issues as awareness of the nature of medical error, legal liability of the perpetrator, consequences of medical error for further professional activity, the function of the Patients' Rights Representative and consequences of publishing the problem.
Results: The results indicate many negative effects of medical errors on physicians, such as common fear of making an error (82%), increased caution (52%), disadvantageous security measures while performing one's duties (57%), worsening of doctor-patient relations (67%), loss of social trust (62%) and increased treatment costs (40%). Forty five percent of the surveyed doctors declared that patients need the Patients' Rights Representative and 39% claimed it does not affect their work.
Conclusions: Given the significant burden on physicians' health, well-being and performance associated with medical errors, health care institutions should take this into account and provide physicians with formal systems of support.
Keywords: emotional distress; medical error; physicians; professional support.