Physician Burnout Linked to Increased Patient Safety Risks

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Maria Panagioti| Senior Research Fellow Division of Population Health, Health Services Research & Primary Care University of Manchester Manchester

Dr. Panagioti

Dr Maria Panagioti, Senior Research Fellow
Division of Population Health
Health Services Research & Primary Care
University of Manchester
Manchester

 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several studies have shown that the demanding work environment has alarming consequences on the well-being of physicians. Over 50 percent of physicians experience significant signs of burnout across medical specialities. However, the consequences of burnout on patient care are less well-known.

This is the largest meta-analysis to date which pooled data from 43,000 doctors to examine the relationship between burnout in physicians and patient safety, professionalism and patient satisfaction.

We found that burnout in physicians is associated with two times increased risk for patient safety incidents, reduced professionalism and lower patient satisfaction. Particularly in residents and early career physicians, burnout was associated with almost 4 times increased risk for reduced professionalism.  Continue reading

Female Patients More Likely To Die If Treated By Male Doctor

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brad N. Greenwood PhD Associate Professor Information & Decision Sciences Carlson School of Management University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Minneapolis MN 

Dr. Greenwood

Brad N. Greenwood PhD
Associate Professor
Information & Decision Sciences
Carlson School of Management
University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Minneapolis
MN

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been growing work in medicine which suggests both that a) women are more skilled physicians across a variety of ailments and b) women are particularly challenging heart attack patients (for a variety of reasons ranging from delays in seeking treatment to atypical presentation). When you coupled this with the deep literatures in economics, sociology, and political science which suggests that advocatees experience better outcomes when they share traits with their advocates, it seemed plausible that there might be differences in outcomes.

The key finding is that gender concordance matters most for female patients:  female patients are about 0.7-1.2% more likely to die if treated by a male doctor, relative to a female doctor.  This number seems small.  But, if the survival rate among the female heart attack patients treated by male doctor was the same as the survival rate among female heart attack patients treated by female doctors, about 1,500-3,000 fewer of the female heart attack patients in our sample would have passed away. Our sample covers the state of Florida from 1991-2010.  Florida is about 10% of the US population. Continue reading

Defensive Medicine is Real and Raises Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Gruber PhD
Department of Economics, E52-434
MIT
Cambridge, MA 02139

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: There is a large literature trying to estimate the extent of ‘defensive  medicine’ by looking at what happens when it gets harder to sue and/or  you can win less money. But there have been no studies of what happens if you just get rid of the right to sue.  That’s what we have with active duty patients treated on a military base.

The main finding is that when patients can’t sue they are treated about  5% less intensively.  Much of the effect appears to arise from fewer diagnostic tests.

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How Doctors Communicate Empathy Critical to Family-Physician Partnership

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Tessie W. October. MD, MPH Critical Care Specialist Children’s National Health System

Dr. October

Dr. Tessie W. October. MD, MPH
Critical Care Specialist
Children’s National Health System 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: This is a qualitative study that examines the impact of empathetic statements made by doctors on the ensuing conversation with families of critically ill children. We know families are more satisfied when doctors show empathy, but until this study, we did not know how these empathetic statements are received by families. In this study we found that doctors frequently respond to a family’s emotions by responding with empathy, but how the doctor presented that empathetic statement mattered. When doctors made an empathetic statement, then paused to allow time for a family’s response, the family was 18 times more likely to share additional information about their fears, hopes or values. Conversely, when doctors buried the empathetic statement within medical talk or if a second doctor interrupted, the empathetic statement frequently went unheard by the family.

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Physicians Who Receive Pharmaceutical Company Payments More Likely To Prescribe Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Vishal Bala Senior Quantitative Data Analyst CareDash

Vishal Bala

Vishal Bala
Senior Quantitative Data Analyst
CareDash

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Prior research into physicians and their relationships with the pharmaceutical industry has typically retained a narrow scope, focusing on how payments may be associated with prescription habits (sometimes limited to specific regions) for specific categories of drugs. For example, Modi et al. 2017 and Bandari et al. 2017 explored these connections in the context of some urologic drugs specifically.

Research conducted by ProPublica in 2016 studied the connection between industry payments and physician prescriptions across some of the largest medical specialties, but was only able to look at “brand-name” vs. “generic” categories and were limited by overlapping timeframes for payments and prescriptions.

CareDash took this analysis further by using Open Payments and Medicare Part D data to investigate the relationship between payments made by individual companies for specific drugs and the prescribing habits of the recipient physicians for those drugs.

CareDash’s main findings are that healthcare providers who received payments for a drug from a pharmaceutical company are 5 times more likely to be high prescribers for that drug than those physicians who did not receive a payment. Physicians are 5.3 times more likely to prescribe a drug than their peers after they have received a payment for that drug from the manufacturer. When physicians already prescribe a drug significantly more often than their peers, they are 5.6 times more likely to later receive payment for that drug from the drug’s manufacturer. Looking at the opioid drug class specifically, CareDash found that physicians receiving payment on behalf of an opioid were 14.5 times more likely to prescribe that opioid over alternatives.

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Male Physicians Receive More Money From Industry Than Women Doctors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Doctors” by Tele Jane is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Kathryn R. Tringale, MAS
Department of Radiation Medicine and Applied Sciences
University of California San Diego, La Jolla

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Financial relationships between biomedical industry and physicians are common, and previous work has investigated the potential conflicts of interest that can arise from these interactions.

Data show that even small payments in the form of industry sponsored lunches can influence physician prescribing patterns. Given the concern for the potential influence of biomedical industry over practice patterns and potentially patient care, the Open Payments program was implemented under the Affordable Care Act to shed light on these interactions and make reports of these financial transactions publicly available. We recently published a paper in JAMA on industry payments to physicians that found that men received a higher value and greater number of payments than women physicians and were more likely to receive royalty or licensing payments when grouped by type of specialty (surgeons, primary care, specialists, interventionalists).

The purpose of the Research Letter discussed here was to further examine differences in the value of payments received by male and female physicians within each individual specialty. The main takeaway from this study is that male physicians, across almost every specialty, are receive more money from biomedical industry compared to female physicians. At first glance, this finding can be interpreted as merely another example of gender disparities in the workplace, which we have seen before with gender gaps in physician salaries and research funding. Indeed, this gender gap may be a product of industry bias leading to unequal opportunity for women to engage in these profitable relationships. Alternatively, these data may be more representative of gender differences in physician decision-making. Previous data has shown that industry engagement can lead to changes in practice patterns, so maybe female physicians acknowledge these conflicts of interest and actively choose not to engage with industry. Unfortunately, we cannot tease out these subtleties from our results, but our paper does reveal a remarkable gender difference among physician engagement with industry.

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Whose Patients Have Lower 30-Day Mortality? Younger or Older Doctors?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD</strong> Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Health Policy and Management Cambridge, MA 02138

Dr. Tsugawa

Yusuke Tsugawa, MD, MPH, PhD
Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy and Management
Cambridge, MA 02138

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Although evidence has suggested that older physicians may experience a
decline in medical knowledge and are less likely to adhere to standard care, patients in general had a perception that older doctors are more
experienced and therefore provide superior care.

Using a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized
for medical conditions in 2011-2014, we found that patients treated by
younger doctors have lower 30-day mortality compared to those cared
for by older doctors, after adjusting for patient, physician, and
hospital characteristics.

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Majority of Neurologists Report Symptoms of Burnout

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Neil A. Busis, M.D. University of Pittsburgh Physicians Department of Neurology Chief of Neurology, UPMC Shadyside Director of Community Neurology

Dr. Neil A. Busis

Neil A. Busis, M.D.
University of Pittsburgh Physicians
Department of Neurology
Chief of Neurology, UPMC Shadyside
Director of Community Neurology

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies showed that neurologists have both one of the highest rates of burnout and the lowest rates of satisfaction with work-life balance, compared to other physicians.

The mission of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is to promote the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care and enhance member career satisfaction. This is why AAN President Dr. Terrence Cascino initiated this research, to better define the issue. Our findings can guide current and future programs to prevent and mitigate neurologist burnout, promote neurologist career satisfaction and well-being, and direct efforts to advocate on behalf of neurologists and their patients.

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Relationship Between Physician Burnout and Quality of Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michelle P. Salyers Ph.D.</strong> Professor, Psychology Director, Clinical Psychology Program Director, ACT Center of Indiana Affiliated Scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Inc. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IN

Dr. Salyers

Michelle P. Salyers Ph.D.
Professor, Psychology
Director, Clinical Psychology Program
Director, ACT Center of Indiana
Affiliated Scientist, Regenstrief Institute, Inc.
Indiana University-Purdue University
Indianapolis, IN

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Professional burnout among healthcare providers is receiving more attention in research and in public press. There have long been speculations that the level of burnout may be related to quality of care provided, and many studies have been done linking provider burnout with different aspects of quality of care.

This study brings together that literature, to summarize and quantify the link between professional burnout in healthcare provider and the quality of care they provide. We were able to combine data from 82 independent samples, across health care disciplines, settings, and types of quality indicators. We found small to medium relationships between provider burnout and indicators of quality of care.

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Surgical Oncologist Discusses Empathy as Critical Ingredient of Good Medical Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Dmitri Alden MD, FACS Surgical Oncologist, specializes in liver cancer, bile duct cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY Dr. Alden is an advocate of the role of empathy in medicine

Dr. Dmitri Alden

Dr. Dmitri Alden MD, FACS
Surgical Oncologist, specializes in liver cancer, bile duct cancer, metastatic ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital, NY

Dr. Alden is an advocate of the role of empathy in medicine and discusses his passion for compassionate care in this interview.
Please see his bio and website at http://www.liversurgeryny.com.
MedicalResearch.com: Why do you feel that empathy is a vital part of treating a patient?

Response: Over the last decade many physicians, patients and other professionals began to recognize that medical care is much more than treatment with medications or an act of surgery. Healing involves pain and suffering and dealing with psychological issues connected to the stress of being taken out of one’s normal life routine. Pain is now considered a “vital sign” and only recently it became mandatory to address it properly and document it in a medical record. Empathy in my opinion is a “vital sign” of any relationship that forms between a patient and a medical professional. When expressed genuinely, it makes a tremendous impact on patient’s overall experience and recovery.

MedicalResearch.com: How do you define empathy in regards to medical treatment?

Response: Empathy is understanding and true genuine caring. Patients and doctors create a unique and very personal relationship built on trust and “chemistry”. The doctor’s ability to express empathy, step in the patient’s shoes, get to know their life, loves, personal problems and to structure care around this unique individual enhances the patient’s belief in the route of treatment chosen and the doctor’s ability to provide a cure.

MedicalResearch.com: Do you feel that the medical system doesn’t emphasize empathy enough?

Response: Doctors are trained without an emphasis on empathy. They focus on acquiring immense amounts of information that need to be learned during medical school and residency. Emotions are currently left to the side in order to succeed. The end product is often a machine that knows what to do in any medical situation but has difficulty to connect on an emotional level. I feel that empathy is also a very important step towards achieving successful outcomes because a patient will feel more invested in following the doctor’s advice if he feels there is compassion and understanding.

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What Interventions Can Reduce Epidemic Physician Burnout?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Colin P. West, MD, PhD, FACP  Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Biomedical Statistics and Informatics Departments of Internal Medicine and Health Sciences Research Mayo Clinic

Dr. Colin West

Colin P. West, MD, PhD, FACP
Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Biomedical Statistics and Informatics
Departments of Internal Medicine and Health Sciences Research
Mayo Clinic

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Physician burnout has reached epidemic levels, as documented in national studies of both physicians in training and practicing physicians demonstrating burnout rates in excess of 50%. Consequences include negative effects on patient care, professionalism, physicians’ own care and safety, and the viability of health-care systems. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to better understand the quality and outcomes of the literature on approaches to prevent and reduce burnout.

We identified 2617 articles, of which 15 randomized trials including 716 physicians and 37 cohort studies including 2914 physicians met inclusion criteria. Across interventions, overall burnout rates decreased from 54% to 44%, emotional exhaustion score decreased from 23.82 points to 21.17 points, and depersonalization score decreased from 9.05 to 8.41. High emotional exhaustion rates decreased from 38% to 24% and high depersonalization rates decreased from 38% to 34%.

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Doctors: “I would never want to have a mental health diagnosis on my record”


MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katherine J. Gold, MD MSW MS Department of Family Medicine Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation; Depression Center University of Michigan

Dr. Katherine Jo Gold

Katherine J. Gold, MD MSW MS
Department of Family Medicine
Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation; Depression Center
University of Michigan

With co-authors Louise B. Andrew MD JD; Edward B. Goldman JD; Thomas L. Schwenk MD

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: It is common knowledge that physicians are often hesitant to seek care for mental health concerns. Knowing that female physicians have increased rates of both depression and suicide, we surveyed female physicians who were mothers and who participated in a closed FaceBook group about their mental health, treatment, and opinions about licensing. More than 2100 U.S. physicians responded, representing all specialties and states.

Almost half of participants reported that at some point since medical school they had met criteria for a mental illness but didn’t seek treatment. Reasons included feeling like they could get through without help (68%), did not have the time (52%), felt a diagnosis would be embarrassing or shameful (45%), did not want to ever have to report to a medical board or hospital (44%), and were afraid colleagues would find out (39%). Overall, 2/3 identified a stigma-related reason for not seeking help.

Almost half reported prior diagnosis or treatment, but just 6% of these women stated they had disclosed this to a state medical board on a licensing application, though states vary on what information they require be disclosed.

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Current Complaint Investigations Contribute to Physician Burnout

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Professor Tom Bourne Ph.D., FRCOG, FAIUM (hon). Adjunct Professor, Imperial College, London Visiting Professor, KU Leuven, Belgium Consultant Gynaecologist Queen Charlotte's and Chelsea Hospital

Prof. Tom Bourne

Professor Tom Bourne Ph.D., FRCOG, FAIUM (hon).
Adjunct Professor, Imperial College, London
Visiting Professor, KU Leuven, Belgium
Consultant Gynaecologist
Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Previous studies had suggested that complaint investigations might be associated with psychiatric morbidity – including depression and suicide. For example in the United States, malpractice litigation has been reported to be associated with burnout, depression and suicidal ideation. We had also witnessed in our daily practice both the burden that complaints investigations have on colleagues, but also that doctors were often practicing defensive medicine to “protect themselves”. Against this background we embarked on a large survey study on doctors in the UK – with almost 8000 physicians replying to the survey. This survey contained questions relating to validated psychological instruments for depression and anxiety, new metrics for defensive practice (hedging and avoidance) as well as single item questions. We published these data in 20151. We found that recent or current complaints were associated with significant levels or anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, this was irrespective of the complaints procedure – although this was highest when it involved the main UK regulator the general medical council (GMC). Many doctors reported practising defensive medicine due to a fear of complaints – with over 80% reporting hedging and over 40% reporting avoidance. A number of recommendations were made to improve how complaints procedures might work.

In the final part of the questionnaire we asked three open questions, how the complaints procedure made the doctor feel, what was the most stressful aspects of the procedure and what could be done to improve things. It is the analysis of this qualitative data that is presented in the current paper.

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Doctors Make More Mistakes When Patients Are Difficult or Disruptive

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sílvia Mamede, MD, PhD Associate professor Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam Erasmus MC Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Dr. Silvia Mamede

Sílvia Mamede, MD, PhD
Associate professor
Institute of Medical Education Research Rotterdam
Erasmus MC
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Mamede: Doctors are often engaged in clinical encounters that are emotionally charged. Patients who feel anxious about their problems often respond emotionally in their interaction with their doctors. Most of these encounters fall within the limits of what is to be expected in clinical practice, but some patients behave in ways that make the doctor-patient interaction particularly distressing. Aggressive or disrespectful patients, frequent demanders, patients who don’t trust their doctors’ competence or ever-helpless patients are known, in the medical literature, as “difficult patients”. Doctors have reported to encounter these so-called “difficult patients” in around 15% of the outpatient consultations. As it might be expected, these patients’ behaviors provoke emotional reactions in doctors. The potential negative effect of these reactions on the doctor’s diagnostic accuracy has long been discussed in the medical literature. However, there was no empirical evidence that this happened. We conducted two studies to fill this gap.

In the two studies, doctors diagnosed clinical cases that were exactly the same except for the patient’s behaviors. In the first study, we used complex and simple cases. Even though the cases were the same, doctors made 42% more mistakes in disruptive than in non-disruptive patients when the cases were complex, and 6% more mistakes when the cases were simple. In the second study, we used cases deemed to be at an intermediate level of complexity. Doctors made 20% more mistakes in difficult compared to neutral patients. These findings show that disruptive behaviors displayed by patients seem to affect doctors’ reasoning and induce them to make diagnostic errors. The findings of our second study suggest that disruptive behaviors “capture” the doctor’s attention at the expense of attention for the clinically relevant information. We came to this conclusion because when asked to recall the information from a case afterwards, doctors who were confronted with a difficult patient remember more information about the patient’s behaviors and less information of the clinically relevant symptoms than doctors confronted with the natural version of the same patient. Recall of information is considered a measure of the amount of attention given to such information.

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Patients In Greatest Need of Health Care Perceive Their Physicians As “Empty”

Juliana Schroeder PhD, Assistant Professor Berkeley Haas Management of Organizations Group University of California at BerkeleyMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Juliana Schroeder PhD, Assistant Professor

Berkeley Haas Management of Organizations Group
University of California at Berkeley

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Schroeder: Whereas much research examines how physicians perceive their patients,in this paper we instead study how patients perceive physicians. We propose that patients consider their physicians like personally emotionless “empty vessels:” The higher is individuals’ need for care, the less they value physicians’ traits related to physicians’ personal lives (e.g., self-focused emotions) but the more they value physicians’ traits relevant to patient care (e.g., patient-focused emotions).

​In a series of experiments,we show that participants in higher need for care believe their physicians have less personal emotions. That is, they perceive physicians as emotionally “empty” the more they need them. This was true both when we manipulated need for care – for example, by having participants focus on potential medical problems or reminding them they needed to get a medical check-up – and also when we measured it, for example by comparing patients at a medical clinic (high need) to people not at a clinic (low need).

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