Ensuring that hospital staff are satisfied and ready to take on the day is crucial to patient care and hospital effectiveness, but according to one study, some physicians are more unhappy than ever.
Today, Medscape released its “Medscape Lifestyle Report 2016: Bias and Burnout” that surveyed 15,800 physicians from more than 25 specialties. Responses found burnout rates for all physician specialties are higher than last year, as is the reported severity of their burnout.
“This issue is certainly a growing concern in the hospital community,” says John Combes, M.D., CMO and senior vice president at the American Hospital Association and leader of the AHA’s Physician Leadership Forum. “Many physicians are trying to get administrative tasks done, and that sacrifices time for patient interaction, a reason many physicians got into the field.”
The survey found the highest average percentage of burnouts (defined as a loss of enthusiasm for work, feelings of cynicism and a low sense of personal accomplishment) occurred in critical care, urology and emergency medicine, each at 55 percent. Last year’s highest burnout percentages were also in critical care (53 percent) and emergency medicine (52 percent). However, this year’s burnout rates are up across all physician specialties.
Equally concerning is the increase in the severity of physician burnouts across all specialties. Physicians were asked to rank the severity of their burnout from one to seven, where one equals “it doesn’t interfere with my life” and seven equals “it is so severe that I am thinking of leaving medicine altogether.” Critical care physicians reported the highest average severity rating at 4.7, while rheumatologists and psychiatrists reported the lowest at 3.9.
“Many hospitals are working to alleviate the things that disconnect physicians from their patients,” says Combes. “As care delivery moves toward a more team-based approach, patients can be seen by the correct member of the team in a quicker time frame.”
According to the survey, the main cause of these burnouts was attributed to “too many bureaucratic tasks” at 4.8 followed by “spending too many hours at work (4.1) and increasing computerization of practice (4).
Hospitals have taken measures to unburden physicians, according to Combes. Many are using scribes to alleviate the need for a physician to perform administrative tasks and focus more on patient interaction. Hospitals also are implementing wellness teams to provide more immediate attention to overworked physicians.
While hospitals have prioritized the problem and started developing solutions, numbers across the board still rise each year.
“Unfortunately, nobody has found that magic solution or particular programs that have been successful,” said Michael Smith, M.D., chief medical editor, WebMD. “If we don’t see significant changes in what is causing burnouts, then we’re unlikely to see a change in rates and change in medical care.”