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How are we to feel safe and to trust a group of professionals who routinely leave sponges and gauze in a body after operation or who make a preventable medical error so severe that a patient dies? A preventable error is medical negligence. Many, who defend medical professionals, say that doctors are overworked and understaffed. Others would argue that doctors just don’t care enough to perform a lifesaving technique, error-free. And maybe doctors are just burnt out.
Are Our Doctors Burnt Out?
In a 2012 study, from the Mayo Clinic, revealed that doctors have one of the highest burnout rates of any other profession. In the study, 7,288 physicians were surveyed on their quality of life and job satisfaction. The results found that 46% of responding physicians reported at least one burnout symptom. The study concluded that doctors, as a group, suffer high levels of emotional exhaustion and struggle to find a satisfying work-life balance. Doctors who are burnt out or who exhibit burnout symptoms are most likely to make medical errors or misdiagnose a patient. So, what makes a doctor burnt out? They make good money, their jobs are invaluable, and they are life savers. Do they hate their jobs? Do they even care about their patients? Is being “burnt out” even a viable excuse?
Doctors feel pressured, especially by the limited time they are allowed to spend with their patients, plus the constant rule changes set by insurers and other payers on what they can prescribe or offer as a treatment option. Additionally, doctors are expected to spend more time learning and utilizing electronic medical devices, leaving less time to spend with patients. The stress and expectations, according to The New York Times, pushes doctors to care less, make more mistakes, and sometimes quit their practice all together.
We have all felt exhausted at times, not wanting to go to work or even hating our job so much that we want to quit, but is that considered burnout? The Mayo Health Clinic suggests that you may be burnt out if you:
– Have to drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started with tasks
– Are critical or cynical in the work place
– Become irritable and/or impatient with co-works, customers and/or clients
– Lack energy to be productive
– Lack a feeling of satisfaction from achievements
– Feel disillusioned about your job
– Use food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to “not” feel
– Sleep and appetite has changed
– Suffer from unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical ailments
The symptoms may be an underlying physical or mental health condition, but can be managed if the burnout sufferer wants to change. Sometimes a career change is necessary, other times one can improve their feelings about work by working on managing their stress, changing their attitude, seek support, have an “outside of work” life, and get regular exercise. Untreated or ignored burnout symptoms could lead to a myriad of serious and long lasting health issues, including, but not limited to:
– Heart Disease
– Substance Abuse
– Type 2 Diabetes
– Trouble in “home life”
Doctors, being medical professionals, who are trained to be aware of medical issues, should be more in tune with burnout symptoms. While we don’t know how many are actually being treated for burnout symptoms, themselves, the symptoms should be taken seriously as they affect patient care and often times lead to medical negligence or a medical malpractice suit. While many of our doctors should be thanked on a daily basis for their life saving abilities, the doctors who suffer from burnout should evaluate their options before more innocent lives are at stake.
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