According to the first Medscape National Report on Physician Burnout and Depression, almost two-thirds of doctors in the U.S. feel burned out or depressed, and one out of three of these doctors admits that this affects their interactions with patients and other medical professionals.
The survey included more than 15,000 practicing doctors with 29 different specialties. Burnout rates (42 percent of participants) were highest among family doctors, internists, ob-gyns, neurologists, and intensivists, with women physicians reporting a 10 percent higher burnout rate. About 15 percent of doctors reported dealing with symptoms of depression or serious depression.
What does this mean for the patients of these doctors? In general, it means less focused and attentive care from the doctors you trust with your health. With 32 percent of physicians reporting that they were less engaged with patients and 29 percent reporting that they were less friendly with patients, you may not be getting the quality professional healthcare that you deserve.
In the same survey, almost 15 percent of the doctors admitted that dealing with depression and burnout could cause them to make errors they normally would not make, and 5 percent of respondents admitted that depression and burnout had already caused them to make errors that could have harmed a patient.
Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Doctor burnout and depression is another contributing factor to these tragic deaths, and will likely continue to adversely affect patient care until medical professionals feel less overworked and find adequate coping mechanisms for their stressful careers. According to the report, 33 percent of physicians cope with burnout by indulging in junk food and 22 percent drink alcohol to cope.
As a patient, you can combat some physician apathy by being vigilant about your healthcare. Don’t be shy to press doctors to find the answers you need. You are your own best advocate, but you can’t know what you don’t know, and that can lead to a lack of adequate information when your doctor is disengaged. Sadly, it can also lead to the type of medical errors that give rise to medical malpractice lawsuits.
If you or your family member has suffered severe injuries because of a misdiagnosis, medication error, or other preventable medical mistake made by your physician or other health care professional, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries with a medical malpractice lawsuit. To find out if you can pursue justice for your injuries through the legal system, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation to discuss the specific circumstances of your case.
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At Kline & Specter, PC, our medical malpractice attorneys, five of whom are accomplished physicians, are dedicated to helping medical malpractice victims and their families seek the justice they deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. Let us help you if you or your loved one has suffered severe injuries at the hands of a medical professional.