Physician burnout in the operating room and emergency department

It’s no secret that burnout is prevalent among primary care doctors, with 30 percent wanting the leave the field within five years.

It gets no better in other specialties.

I recently read that, frighteningly, almost 9 percent of surgeons admitted to a lapse in medical judgment within the past 3 months, in part due to the fact that nearly 40 percent admitted to burnout.

The author of that post, an emergency physician, wonders what the burnout rate is in an ER environment:

Working in an emergency department is a mixture of exhilaration and challenge, which creates both physical and mental stress. Yet we know that patients in the emergency room need their treating physicians to be attentive, alert and at the top of their game.

Professional satisfaction in the medical field is rapidly declining, and that’s starting to affect patient care. More needs to be done to improve mental and emotional support of doctors already in the field, but sadly, improving doctors’ professional satisfaction is nowhere to be heard in the health reform debate.

That needs to change.

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  • docguy

    Most of the er docs i know are smarter than pcps in terms of having a life outside of medicine. I agree that the shifts they work are difficult but many pcps are in solo practive and work doesn’t stop at the end of a 12 hour shift. It never seems to stop.

    I think actually pcps and some of the rest of us should work shifts and then stop at 10-13 12 hour shifts a month and that’s it. I think that would help the burnout a lot.

    I’m not trying to start a argument with the er docs, that is the typical schedule for board certified er physicians at my local hospital and in my area.

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