Research Links Doctor Burnout to Patient Safety Incidents

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Physician burnout is associated with increased risk of patient safety incidents, poorer quality of care due to low professionalism, and reduced patient satisfaction.
Physician burnout is associated with increased risk of patient safety incidents, poorer quality of care due to low professionalism, and reduced patient satisfaction.

HealthDay News — Physician burnout is associated with increased risk of patient safety incidents, poorer quality of care due to low professionalism, and reduced patient satisfaction, according to a review published online Sept. 4 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Marie Panagioti, Ph.D., from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the correlation between physician burnout and risk of patient safety incidents, care outcomes due to low professionalism, and patient satisfaction. A total of 5,234 records were identified; the meta-analysis included 47 studies with 42,473 physicians.

The researchers observed a correlation for physician burnout with increased risk of patient safety incidents, poorer quality of care due to low professionalism, and reduced patient satisfaction (odds ratios, 1.96, 2.31, and 2.28, respectively). High heterogeneity was seen, and the quality of studies was low to moderate. Compared with middle- and late-career physicians, residents and early-career physicians had larger links between burnout and low professionalism (Cohen Q = 7.27). The method of reporting of patient safety incidents and professionalism significantly influenced the main results (Cohen Q = 8.14).

"This meta-analysis provides evidence that physician burnout may jeopardize patient care; reversal of this risk has to be viewed as a fundamental health care policy goal across the globe," the authors write.

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