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Medical Errors Highlighted Amid New Study on Doctor Burnout

A new study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, reveals some alarming facts about doctor burnout. Many are now wondering how this burnout is affecting patient care and if it's increasing the potential for medical mistakes.

The study, recently published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, surveyed doctors from various fields and asked them a set of questions regarding thoughts about their job and sense of accomplishment in their practice. They were also asked about their feelings about work-life balance and whether they had symptoms of depression.

Out of the 7,288 doctors surveyed, over 45 percent of doctors admitted to feeling work-related burnout. Over 40 percent reported feeling unhappy with their work-life balance. The data also revealed that doctors practicing in emergency, family and internal medicine experienced the most burnout.

The results of the study has many pondering whether patient care is affected because of doctors exhausted from the practice of medicine. Study author and Mayo Clinic Dr. Tait Shanafelt says that patients should indeed be alarmed. "Our finding is concerning given the extensive literature linking burnout to medical errors and lower quality of care," he says.

Unfortunately, Shanafelt and the other authors of the study admit that there are few ways to combat this growing problem. They are, however, encouraging additional research to find out ways that will help doctor burnout and mitigate the potential for medical errors to occur.

Source: TIME, Is Your Doctor Burned Out? Nearly Half of U.S. Physicians Say They're Exhausted, Alexandra Sifferlin, Aug 21, 2012

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