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Patients suffer when doctors suffer from burnout

You count on your doctor for care in a variety of situations. In order to provide you with that care, your doctor has to care for himself or herself. Burnout in the medical field is common, and you could suffer if your doctor is suffering from burnout.

A study that was done by a physician at the Mayo Clinic looked at 7,000 workers, some of whom were doctors. The results showed that 49 percent of doctors met the points necessary for burnout. That is a huge increase from the 28 percent of other workers who fit the definition.

Besides meeting the definition of burnout, doctors are also more likely to suffer from depersonilization and emotional exhaustion. The rate among doctors is a staggering 1.5 times higher than that of the general public.

The bad news doesn't stop there. When it comes to work-life balance, doctors once again get the short end of the stick. Only 36 percent of doctors are satisfied in this area. When it comes to others, the satisfaction rate is much higher at 61 percent.

Doctors are more likely to work longer hours. While the median weekly hours worked is 50 for doctors, 24 percent of doctors report working 60 to 69 hours per week. Only 5 percent of the general public can say the same.

So, where does your health care come in? Doctors who are emotionally exhausted and suffering from burnout are more likely to make errors when caring for patients. Surgeons, for example, are likely to spend 10 to 18 hours per day at the hospital. That can lead to massive burnout.

An Annals of Surgery survey of almost 8,000 surgeons showed something pretty shocking. Nine percent of the respondents noted they had made a major error in medical care in the previous three months. Of those, 70 percent attributed the error to a lapse in judgment, stress, or fatigue.

If you are a patient who was harmed by a doctor suffering from burnout, you can take action. A medical malpractice claim can help you seek compensation. It can also raise questions about the underlying cause of the errors that were made.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Diagnosis: Burnout," Steve Sternberg, Sep. 08, 2016

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