According to a recent Harvard report, physician burnout is “a public health crisis that urgently demands action.”
Half of all doctors report troubling symptoms: depression, exhaustion, dissatisfaction and a sense of failure. These physicians are twice as likely to commit a serious medical error, research finds. Experts predict that if left unaddressed, burnout will further erode the mental health of doctors and radically undermine patient care.
At medical conferences and on social media, clinicians of every specialty line up to offer their thoughts on, and remedies for, this growing threat. But despite the sense of urgency and abundance of opinion, the problem, itself, is scantily understood and ill-defined. One systematic review of the scientific literature found 142 different meanings for the term “burnout” in a clinical context.