Physician Burnout and Depression May Lead to Medical Errors

Physicians are under a lot of pressure in today’s medical practices and hospital environments. Between administrative responsibilities (including paperwork, EHR’s, OSHA compliance, etc.) and patient care, physician burnout and stress are ever-present.

According to a recent installment of The New York Times’ column The Checkup by Perri Klass, M.D., this creates risk for both physicians and patients. Klass writes, “A growing body of research shows that physician burnout and depression are linked to medical errors and to the kind of depersonalized care that is often both less effective and less palatable.” Klass reports that “nearly half of physicians and over 50 percent of trainees experience burnout at some point” and that physicians have “approximately twice the relative risk of suicide compared to people in other professions.”

In addition to day-to-day job pressures, physicians can also experience acute anxiety from adverse outcomes and/or medical malpractice cases. MLMIC’s website points policyholders to important support resources to help them get through these events. It’s critical to understand the signs and symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress and to address unhealthy coping mechanisms.

MLMIC also encourages physicians and other providers to pay attention to the signs not only as individuals but also as colleagues. It’s important to watch out for one another in all settings from the office practice to the operating room and seek support whenever necessary.