In a recent study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, which surveyed 7,288 physicians, it was discovered that 45.8% of doctors reported having at least one symptom of burnout. Researchers noted that there were substantial differences between the various medical specialties, with the highest rates of symptoms coming from physicians in the areas of family medicine, general internal medicine, and emergency medicine.
Physicians returning the survey were evaluated using a 22 item questionnaire which evaluated such things as depersonalization and emotional exhaustion. Physicians in the area of pediatrics, dermatology, occupational medicine, and brand occupational medicine were among the lowest, but still high among the general population.
What was apparent in the survey is that, despite their high level of education and success, doctors are much more likely to have symptoms of burn-out than the patients they treat. Nearly 40% of doctors surveyed were not satisfied with their work-life balance. One reason is likely the extensive hours they are spending on the job. On average, physicians spent more hours in the office than most workers. The physicians surveyed recorded working an average of 50 hours per week versus 40 hours per week for the general population. Physicians working 60 or more hours per week accounted for 37.9% of those surveyed.
Researchers concluded that “the prevalence of burn-out among U.S. physicians is at an alarming level.” This results in serious personal repercussions, such as excessive alcoholic use, poor personal relationships, and even suicidal thoughts. Most significantly, researchers expressed concern about the prevalence of burnout since evidence shows that physician burnout may adversely affect patient care. A 2002 article in the Annals of Surgery reported that medical errors by surgeons are closely correlated to the doctor’s degree of burnout. The article concluded that, despite efforts to improve patient safety, errors remain a common cause of mortality and morbidity.
Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer Tad Thomas recognizes the serious impact medical negligence can have on the health and well-being of a person and is committed to protecting the rights of patients who have been injured as the result of a negligent medical professional.