Burnout among junior doctors impacting patient safety, study finds
Doctors with ‘burnout’ are twice as likely to be involved in patient safety incidents, and more than twice as likely to receive low satisfaction ratings from patients, according to new research.
The study is the largest and most comprehensive analysis of the association between physician burnout and the quality of clinical care given to their patients and collates results from 170 observational studies involving over 200,000 physicians across America, Europe, and the UK.
Published in the BMJ, the research suggests that burnout among physicians is reaching a crisis point globally.
Burnout is described as emotional exhaustion due to stress, excessive detachment to the job, and a greatly reduced sense of personal accomplishment and job satisfaction. These three dimensions are leading to practitioners becoming highly likely to quit their job or at least regret their career choice. Disengagement, and the high turnover of physicians in practise, is making it harder to maintain services and a high quality of care.
Healthcare organisations should seek to invest more time and resources into tackling physician burnout across all services, particularly among staff in training and early career, and those in emergency medicine, the report concludes.
The study was led by Dr Alexander Hodkinson, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care, University of Manchester, and co-authored by Keele’s Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham.
Professor Chew-Graham, Professor of General Practice Research at Keele University, said: “My previous work has focussed on the impact of work and stress on the individual clinician, this study exposes the risk to patient safety of clinicians suffering burnout. Our research team emphasise that an organisation approach to support clinicians is required, rather than the current emphasis on resilience training for individuals.”
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