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The impact of increased physician burnout on patient health

Most patients in New Jersey clinics understandably expect their doctors to be alert and focused. However, there are times when health care professionals may be overburdened with work. In fact, research suggests physician burnout has reached epidemic levels in the United States, and this could present certain risks for patients. "Burnout" is a term that means more than just being tired. It also refers to a loss of enthusiasm, emotional exhaustion, a lack of personal and job satisfaction and increased detachment and cynicism.

According to one study of nearly 7,000 physicians, more than half reported experiencing at least one of the common symptoms associated with burnout. There has also been a decrease in satisfaction with work-life balance. Such stats are alarming since burnout also increases the risk of doctor error, which could involve oversights with prescriptions, test ordering and even surgery. Some physicians are also leaving medicine altogether or scaling back their hours, which limits patients access to care.

Increasing workloads, declining pay, constant time constraints and the added need to perform various tasks required by insurance companies are among the factors contributing to physician burnout. While it's not easy to measure the impact of burnout among medical professionals, a study of intensive care doctors noted a link between emotional exhaustion and an increased patient mortality rate. Physician burnout is a complex problem with no clear solution; although, some hospitals have implemented physician wellness programs and courses in an effort to address the problem.

It's not always easy to prove physician burnout may have resulted in medical malpractice. However, a personal injury attorney may look at a doctor's workload and whether or not they have a record of documented complaints from other patients or colleagues to determine if burnout may have contributed to negligent actions. If there is sufficient evidence, a lawyer may be able to help a patient secure appropriate compensation for medical expenses and more.

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