The Psychological Impact of Medical Error on Patients, Family Members, and Health Professionals

The Psychological Impact of Medical Error on Patients, Family Members, and Health Professionals

Mary I. Gouva (TEI of Epirus, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2337-6.ch007
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Abstract

The current chapter examines the psychological implications emerging from medical errors. Whilst the psychological effects have studied, nonetheless the consequent impacts and the underlying psychological causes have not been sufficiently analysed and/ or interpreted. The chapter will add to the literate by using a psychodynamic approach in analysing the psychological impact of medical errors and provide interpretations of the underlying causes. The chapter concludes that medical errors lead to a series of implications. For the patient the quality of interactions with health professionals are directly affected and usually have immediate consequences. The impact of these consequences in the patient is mediated by the patient's personality, history of the individual and the psychoanalytic destiny of the patient. For the patient's relatives medical errors create emotional cracks leading to regression and eventual transference of the medical errors as a “bad” object. For health professionals medical errors impact upon the psychological defence mechanisms of the psychic Ego.
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Background

While there are some studies investigating the psychological effects of medical errors on family members (Worsham, 2009; Delbanco & Bell, 2007; Gallagher et al., 2003), and some other studies exploring health professionals experiences and roles in medical errors (Waterman, et al., 2007; Vincent, 2003; Duclos, et al., 2005), nonetheless the literature concedes that there are insufficient available evidence to explicitly determine the impact of medical errors on patients (Elder, et al., 2005; Mazor, et al., 2004).

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