Posted: March 29, 2016

Improving Patient Safety and Satisfaction by Decreasing Physician Burnout


Many medical professionals suffer from burnout, which adversely affects quality of care and threatens professionalism. Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that carries potentially serious implications for health care providers and their patients. With increasing emotional exhaustion, residents and faculty may feel unable to express empathy and compassion. A high level of burnout has been related to physical and mental dysfunction, increase in substance abuse and job turnover, marital problems, and overall low morale of affected health professionals. Moreover, burnout can lead to a drop in the quality of patient care. Much effort in medical education is placed on the development of clinical judgment and technical proficiency; however, little focus is placed on the management of stress and burn out. The introduction of the mandated work hour restrictions, introduced in July 2003, was designed to improve patient safety by reducing resident fatigue. However, studies have shown that despite successful reductions in resident work hours, measures of burn out were not significantly affected. The inability to manage stress may lead to poor patient care, attrition from residency and physician burn out.


Quality Improvement, Clinical Care Innovation (CCI), Clinical Learning Environment, Data Analytics


Michelle C. Nguyen, MD, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Susan D. Moffatt-Bruce, MD, PhD, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center