Replacing Physicians Who Leave Due to Burnout Is Costly

HealthDay News — Physicians who are experiencing burnout are more than twice as likely to leave their organization within 2 years, and this is associated with significant economic costs, according to a report from the American Medical Association.

Maryam Hamidi, PhD, and Mickey Trockel, MD, PhD, from the Stanford Medicine WellMD Center, note that almost 60 physicians would leave Stanford Medicine within 2 years if nothing were done to address burnout. For the 58 physicians who would leave Stanford, the economic loss over 2 years would range from $15.5 million to $55.5 million.

The researchers surveyed a random sample of physicians in 2013 on burnout, work hours, surgical specialty, anxiety, depression, and sleep-related impairment. They reviewed data in 2015 to identify which physicians had left the organization.

The group of physicians that had left had slightly higher anxiety, depression, and sleep-related impairment scores, but there was no significant between-group difference. Burnout was identified as the variable that explained the difference: compared with those not experiencing burnout, physicians with burnout in 2013 were more than twice as likely to leave the organization.

Twenty-three percent of physicians who left Stanford had burnout, compared with 16% of those who did not leave the organization.

“Aside from the humanistic reasons, we’re also trying to make a point that organizations should invest money into preventing burnout,” Hamidi said in a statement.

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Berg S. At Stanford, physician burnout costs at least $7.75 million a year [news release]. AMA Wire. Updated November 17, 2017. Accessed December 6, 2017.