In Boston, Massachusetts, doctors put in long hours, working with tough patients, and sometimes sacrificing their own health to further their practice. Unfortunately, this situation results in doctors who are mentally and physically too overwrought to be at their best for their patients, and so leads to doctor errors. It can also lead to doctors leaving the medical profession completely, forcing the hospital or practice they worked for to recruit and train new doctors at significant expense.
Some hospitals are now investing in programs designed to improve their doctors’ mental and physical health. Those programs include personal coaches and yoga classes, which are intended to develop the doctors’ resilience and skills in dealing with stress. Some hospitals are even establishing positions for doctors’ wellness officers.
Those programs very well may help in some cases, but 54 percent of American doctors still feel on-the-job burnout. This is not healthy for them or for their patients. Some say that the burnout arises in part due to clerical demands, which often require doctors to spend hours at a computer each day. It may also be due to the nature of the work, which is dealing with pain and suffering each day.
Of course, when doctors’ burnout or general stress diminishes their capacity to perform their duties effectively, they can then make dangerous missteps, such as supplying the wrong medication, entering the wrong data into patients’ records or even messing up a surgical procedure. That, in turn, hurts their business as patients flee to better practices, taking their money with them.
One approach that is being taken to improve things for doctors involves streamlining their duties. This is done by hiring more nurses and other support staff to help carry the load so that doctors don’t get overburdened. Additionally, paperwork is simplified so that it will be less time consuming and less stress inducing.
Patients who suffer due to doctors’ errors do have ways to seek compensation. An attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice or negligence lawsuits can explain your legal options.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Counting the Costs: U.S. Hospitals Feeling the Pain of Physician Burnout,” Julie Steenhuysen, Nov. 21, 2017