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Physician Burnout

While pain patients in North America are at risk of slipping into the prescription opioid addiction epidemic, another epidemic is affecting physicians — a problem called “burnout”.

Some researchers estimate that at least one out of every three physicians is experiencing burnout, while other studies show the rates to be much higher. The most common causes of burnout include:

  1. Clinical practice and caring for sick patients
  2. Job stressors that include insurance billing, local and national health care politics, personality clashes with coworkers, etc.
  3. Too few opportunities to “recharge” away from work
  4. Personality traits of those drawn to the profession, i.e., “workaholic,” “superhero,” “perfectionist,” etc.
  5. Pressure from leadership that negatively impact job satisfaction.

Physician burnout not only affects the individual experiencing the problem; others notice it, too. Burned out physicians may find that patients are less satisfied with their care as the quality of that care falls. Burnout is linked to higher medical error rates and risk of malpractice. Physicians who find themselves in the throes of physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion turn more frequently to drugs, alcohol, and even suicide to alleviate the strain, compared to peers without burnout.




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