National Academy of Medicine Issues a Report on Clinician Burnout

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On October 23, 2019, the National Academy of Medicine issued a report on clinician burnout, which assessed the scope of burnout among health care practitioners and the aggregate burden that it places on the U.S. health care system. The report found that between 35 and 54 percent of doctors and nurses and up to 60 percent of medical students and residents experience symptoms of burnout, which can cause increased risks to patient health. Additionally, this can increase the occurrence of malpractice claims, absenteeism and turnover, and financial losses to the medical industry. The report suggested that burnout costs the medical industry $4.6 billion each year, with each burnt-out doctor contributing $7,600 to that figure. Symptoms of burnout include emotional exhaustion, cynicism, loss of enthusiasm in their work, and detachment from patients. Additionally, burnout has contributed to depression, substance abuse, and suicide among clinicians.

The report identifies increasingly complex regulations, workplace pressure, and overall dysfunction in the medical industry as the causes of the increased prevalence of burnout among clinicians. These create inefficiencies that can cause doctors and nurses to resent their job. The report included a list of recommendations for the medical industry to stem the tide of clinician burnout. Among others, these recommendations include:

  • Providing support to clinicians by reducing the stigma of burnout and provide services to help clinicians recover from burnout;
  • Reducing administrative burdens by streamlining laws and regulations; and
  • Investing in research to fully understand the problem and to identify effective solutions.

The National Academy of Medicine report builds on research that Aimed Alliance conducted in October 2018, which culminated in the publication of “Putting Profits Before Patients: Provider Perspectives that on Health Insurance Barriers that Harm Patients.” By identifying administrative burdens as a contributor to clinician burnout, this report supports the conclusions of the National Academy of Medicine.

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