Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Stress among the nation's doctors is causing burnout, leading experts to declare a public health crisis, new research says.
About 78 percent of physicians feel "emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and a diminished sense of personal accomplishment," according to a recent survey published
The burnout problem is leading to doctors reducing hours or just fleeing the professional altogether.
"The issue of burnout is something we take incredibly seriously because physician wellbeing is linked to providing quality care and favorable outcomes for our patients," Alain Chaoui, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society and study co-author, said in a news release.
"We need our health care institutions to recognize burnout at the highest level, and to take active steps to survey physicians for burnout and then identify and implement solutions," Chaoui said. "We need to take better care of our doctors and all caregivers so that they can continue to take the best care of us."
The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that by 2025, the United States will have a shortage of 90,000 physicians.
Added to that is the cost of recruiting and retaining new doctors, which normally runs between $500,000 and $1 million, the study says.
The report, researchers say, was designed to highlight the problem of burnout among physicians and to present solutions to slow down the problem -- such as providing mental health treatment and improving the efficiency of electronic health records.
This has even led the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Harvard Global Health Institute, the Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association to call this problem a public health crisis.
"The growth in poorly designed digital health records and quality metrics has required that physicians spend more and more time on tasks that don't directly benefit patients, contributing to a growing epidemic of physician burnout," said Ashish Jha, a physician at the Veterans Administration and study co-author.
"There is simply no way to achieve the goal of improving healthcare while those on the front lines - our physicians -- are experiencing an epidemic of burnout due to the conflicting demands of their work. We need to identify and share innovative best practices to support doctors in fulfilling their mission to care for patients," Jha said.