Physician Burnout Costs U.S. Billions Each Year

Physician burnout is not only a widespread problem for physicians themselves, but it is also, apparently, bad for business, or so found a new study published this week in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Quantifying the toll of physician burnout has been tackled before, at least in terms of negative clinical and organizational outcomes, but the economic costs of this syndrome have not been as clear.

With this in mind, a team of researchers set out to tally the financial burden of burnout on physicians in the United States. They studied several vital measures related to physician burnout, including turnover rates and reduced clinical hours, as well as their associated costs, and used recent research and industry reports to come to a conservative, and yet, still staggering, estimated cost of burnout—$4.6 billion per year.

“Together with previous evidence that burnout can effectively be reduced with moderate levels of investment, these findings suggest substantial economic value for policy and organizational expenditures for burnout reduction programs for physicians,” the study concluded.

While it is impossible to put a price on the lives of those who so often save lives in this country, having such an overwhelming estimated price tag attached to the problem may be what is needed for health care leaders to begin to adopt initiatives to remedy this ongoing issue.

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