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Burnout Can Have Acute Personal, Professional Consequences

Physician burnout can contribute to failed relationships, substance abuse, suicidal ideation

MONDAY, July 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Stress and burnout are increasingly prevalent among physicians, with serious personal and professional consequences, according to a report published in Medical Economics.

Burnout rates among physicians are much higher than in the general population, with burnout most prevalent in physicians on the “front-line of care.” Physicians in the fields of emergency medicine, family medicine, and general internal medicine are at the highest risk. In a survey of more than 7,000 physicians, nearly half reported at least one symptom of burnout.

According to the report, burnout can have serious personal and professional consequences for physicians if left unaddressed. Burnout can contribute to failure of relationships, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation. Burnout is also associated with disruptive behavior, increased medical errors, reduced patient satisfaction, and increased risk of malpractice, and also affects quality of care and patient outcomes. The education system has likely contributed to burnout by neglecting to focus on the development of social, leadership, and teamwork skills that physicians need. In addition, current changes in medicine resulting from health care reform have contributed to burnout, with physicians citing too many bureaucratic tasks, too many hours at work, insufficient income, increasing computerization, and the impact of the Affordable Care Act as causes of burnout. Physician burnout can be evaluated by surveying staff anonymously and soliciting ideas for workplace improvement.

“Spreading awareness, educating staff, and providing resources is an ideal place to begin,” according to the report.

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