Physician Burnout Crisis

The Massachusetts Medical Society published A Crisis in Health Care: A Call to Action on Physician Burnout on January 17, 2019. The report describes burnout as “a syndrome involving one or more of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment.” President of the Massachusetts Medical Society Alain Chaoui, MD, FAAFP, writes: “The issue of burnout is something we take incredibly seriously because physician wellbeing is linked to providing quality care and favorable outcomes for our patients.” The report is a result of collaboration between the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Also in January 2019, Medscape released National Physician Burnout, Depression & Suicide Report 2019. The online survey compiled input from 15,069  U.S. physicians practicing in more than twenty-nine specialties. Medscape research shows that some medical specialties now have burnout rates above 50%.

Responses to the survey indicate that 44% of physicians meet the criteria for burnout, up from 42% in last year’s report. In addition, 11% are colloquially depressed (feeling down or sad), and 4% are clinically depressed. The responses show that 14% of physicians have had thoughts of suicide but have not attempted it, and 6% said they preferred not to answer. Survey authors note that one physician a day dies by suicide, the highest rate of any profession. According to this survey, 1% of physicians have attempted it.

Top-ranked answers to the survey question “What contributes most to your burnout?” were:

Too many bureaucratic tasks (e.g. charting and paperwork)

Spending too many hours at work

Increasing computerization of practice

Lack of respect from administrators/employers, colleagues or staff

Physician burnout has become a public health issue. Yet the Medscape survey found that only 13% of physicians are currently seeking professional help for burnout or depression.  When doctors are not able to rest and recover during their time off, job burnout takes its toll. Unfortunately, one of the complications of this exhaustion is an increase in medical errors which may lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. In the event of a malpractice suit, the most valuable asset on the legal team can often be the experienced medical expert witness. Contact Elite Medical Experts to discuss your case and secure a leading university healthcare expert.