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Burnout can lead to physician error

Medical professionals often work long hours due to staff shortages and increased demands on quality healthcare. As a result, many doctors can suffer from "burnout." Physician burnout is caused by chronic stress and can lead to doctor's errors and patient injury. In the United States, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death, with close to 250,000 deaths every year.

Doctors in certain high-stress specialties are more likely to experience burnout. According to a 2015 survey by the American Medical Association and Mayo Clinic, emergency medicine physicians were the most likely to experience burnout, followed by doctors in urology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, family medicine and radiology. The survey also revealed that over 54 percent of doctors experienced one or more signs of burnout. Some of these signs include depression, anxiety, disconnect from the job, apathy towards patients and feelings of exhaustion or hopelessness.

Another survey by the Physicians Foundation found that 63 percent of doctors surveyed had negative feelings regarding the practice of medicine and that 49 percent would not advise anyone to pursue a career in medicine.

Physicians are not the only ones who experience burnout. A number of other medical professionals, including nurse care managers, administrative clerks and practical nurses have also experienced burnout.

When people in the medical field experience burnout, they are sometimes unable to do their jobs adequately and put their patients at risk. Medical professionals who are overwhelmed are advised to take some personal time to recharge and take advantage of their hospitals' counseling programs. Another strategy is to engage in basic breathing exercises to handle stress on the spot.

Source: Huffington Post, "Increased Doctor Burnout Rates Lead To Decreased Patient Safety," Dr. Kristy Taylor, July 26, 2017

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