None of us functions well when we are stressed and overtired, and doctors
are no exception. Unfortunately, the incidence of physician burnout continues to rise.
Burnout is not only harmful for doctors, but also puts patient safety at
risk. “If doctors are stressed, how in the world can quality health
care be delivered to patients?” Dr. Humayun Chaudhry, president
and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards, said at the Federation’s
annual meeting. The Federation, which represents state medical and osteopathic
regulatory boards, has made stress and burnout among physicians one of
its top priorities.
In his presentation, Dr. Chaudhry cited a recent survey that found more
than 50 percent of doctors are currently dealing with burnout. The Medscape
survey further found that burnout increased by 25 percent in just four years.
A prior study by the Mayo Clinic found that about 46 percent of the 7,200
doctors surveyed showed signs of burnout. The rate was 10 percent higher
than the rest of the population. The study also looked at burnout rates
by specialty. Emergency doctors ranked highest, with a burnout rate of
70 percent. Conversely, doctors practicing in dermatology and pediatrics
were among the most satisfied.
Physician Burnout Increases Risk of Medical Error
As San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, the rate of physician burnout
is extremely concerning. Hospitals and medical boards need to do more
to get to the root of the problem, whether it is overscheduling, poor
work-life balance, or the demands of electronic health records (EHR).
In terms of patient safety, there are several negative consequences. They include:
- Medical errors
- Higher mortality in hospitalized patients
- Reduced patient satisfaction
- Doctor turnover
- Lower medical knowledge
- Impaired professionalism
- Alcohol abuse
Unfortunately, it appears that many health care organizations are not taking
the problem seriously. A New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst
survey that asked doctors how their facilities are addressing the issue of physician
burnout revealed little is being done. Many of the physicians polled replied
"nothing," "not enough," "paying lip service"
or "talking about the problem in committees but no action plan yet."
Accordingly, when physician burnout results in misdiagnosis or other medical
errors, both the doctor and the health care facility may be responsible.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious harm due to a medical mistake,
don’t hesitate to
a San Diego medical malpractice lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.