A recent study by from Stanford as found that a significant number of physicians are suffering from burnout and/or depression which can contribute to serious medical errors. From ABC News:
Fifty-five percent of doctors reported symptoms of burnout, 33 percent had high levels of fatigue, and 6.5 percent had thoughts of killing themselves in the last year. According to the study, doctors have 3 to 5 times the suicide rate of the general public.
Medical errors are more than twice as likely if a doctor has signs of burnout, and 38 percent more likely if they have signs of fatigue. This was consistent even in workplaces with different safety levels.
“A physician with burnout in a work unit with a safety grade of A has similar rates of error as a non-burnout physician in a unit with safety-grades much lower,” lead author, Dr. Daniel Tawfik, MD, MS instructor of pediatrics and critical care at Stanford University, told to ABC News.
The remarks on the suicide rate among physicians are not particularly surprising. Those have been reported for the last half century along with high rates of alcoholism and/or drug abuse.
I have no ability to “reality check” those findings; I merely pass them along. If true, they’re concerning.
Something else I’ve mentioned from time to time is the number of physicians presently taking antidepressants. We don’t really have any idea how many are doing so but I don’t believe there’s anything in the studies that have been done of antidepressant use which would suggest that patients taking them are performing at peak intellectual capacity. This is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. In my view physicians taking psycho-active drugs are ethically obligated to disclose that to their patients.