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American physicians are overworked

Many American physicians, a whopping 54 percent of them, say that they are overworked. The vice president of professional satisfaction at the American Medical Association says that this is a public health crisis.

The issue here is that an overworked physician might not be able to provide the level of care that patients need. These physicians can suffer from burnout that takes a toll on them and the patients under their care.

There are three primary symptoms of physician burnout, all of which can have a negative impact on patient care. The physician might suffer from emotional exhaustion, which can lead to less energy when caring for patients. They might suffer from a diminished sense of accomplishment, so they don't think they are doing a good job or are able to do a good job. They can suffer from depersonalization, which can mean they are less compassionate than they previously were.

Interestingly, higher degrees of education, which are the case for many doctors who have intensive specialties, are associated with higher levels of burnout. Oftentimes, this is because those specialists are trying to prove themselves or are counted on for an exorbitant number of cases.

But, actual patient care might not be the cause of the burnout. Many physicians report that ever increasing administrative duties, such as ensuring regulatory compliance and having to do extensive documentation, are causes of burnout.

For the patients who haven't received adequate care because the physician on their case was suffering from burnout, seeking compensation might help them to get care for the effects of the inadequate care. It could also help to call more attention to this very preventable issue that is plaguing the American health care system.

Source: Healthcare Dive, "Physician burnout: What can be done," Jeff Byers and Luke Gale, Nov. 07, 2016

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