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"Burned-out" physicians may provide poor quality care to patients

Doctors are often under a great deal of stress, working long hours and having to perfectly perform surgery in high-pressure situations. This demanding lifestyle can result in what is known as "physician burnout." Generally, doctors experiencing burnout can experience exhaustion and depression, lose the ability to care about their patients and become unable to find meaning in the work they do. Unfortunately, many burned out physicians in Maryland end up making critical surgical errors that cause harm to their patients.

Physician burnout can impact not only the doctors experiencing it, but also their patients. Doctors who are burned out are unable to relate to their patients on an emotional level, which may result in an inability to pay attention, loss of memory and inability to function mentally when treating their patients. As a result, their patients end up receiving poor quality care that may cause significant injury or illness. Studies have shown that doctors and nurses experiencing burnout are more likely than other medical professionals to make an error.

Hospitals are trying to improve working conditions to hopefully reduce physician burnout and improve the quality of patient care. Physician burnout can be difficult for patients to recognize, but patients should pay attention to the interactions they have with their doctors and nurses. Experts say that if a patient feels like the person treating them is not connecting with them, but instead just focusing on the facts of the case, that physician may be experiencing burnout. Patients who are unhappy with the care they are receiving are encouraged to report the issue and request another physician.

While we can all sympathize with the stresses of being a medical professional, there is no excuse for administering subpar care. All patients have the right to receive proper treatment that adheres with the standard of care accepted by the medical community. If a patient suffers harm at the hands of a burned out physician or nurse, they may have a valid claim against the medical professional and hospital for medical malpractice.

Source: U.S. News, "Is Physician Burnout Affecting Your Care?" Michael O. Schroeder, April 17, 2018

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