The high rate of burnout for medical professionals hit extraordinary numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic. While available treatments, availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and workloads have all improved since the height of the pandemic, there are still many challenges the medical community continues to deal with. Physician burnout has long been an issue, but the pandemic intensified the issue.
Unfortunately, this burnout can sometimes lead to errors – that ultimately lead to action taken against the physician’s medical license.
How Prevalent Is Physician Burnout?
Last year, a survey was conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA), the Mayo Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Just under 65 percent of survey participants reported dealing with at least one manifestation of burnout during the prior year. Younger doctors who are between six to 10 years out of training report feeling burnt out more than older doctors. The medical specialties that have the highest rate of burnout reported are nephrology, neurology, and urology.
Approximately half of all participating physicians reported dealing with depression. There was also a significant drop in professional fulfillment – falling from 22 percent to 40 percent the year before. There was also a drop in how many physicians said they would choose to practice medicine again – from 72 percent to 57 percent.
The most frequent symptoms of physician burnout include:
Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
Feeling detached from patients
Feelings of apathy
These feelings can lead to unintentional medical errors and they can also lead to substance abuse issues.
Additional research by the AMA reveals that physician burnout is not a result of the medical professional not having the emotional and physical abilities to deal with the pressures of practicing medicine, but is instead a symptom of inadequacies and/or inefficient medical facility systems. Yet, it is the physician who ends up facing consequences with the medical board and potential legal issues.
This issue has become so prevalent that the U.S. Surgeon General recently released an advisory declaring that physician burnout is not just a doctor issue, but is a “public issue.” The advisory included a number of recommendations the panel said should be implemented.
Contact an Illinois Professional License Defense Lawyer
If you are a physician who is facing an investigation by the Illinois Board of Medicine, contact a Chicago medical license defense attorney right away. Call Williams & Nickl, LLC at 312-335-9470 to schedule a free and confidential consultation and find out how our firm can help.