Doctors are increasingly getting burned out on the job

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine says the number of American physicians experiencing burnout, jumped 10% between 2011 and 2014 to more than half of all doctors.

The study says one reason for the jump is an increase in red tape between physicians and insurance companies. Another is a general feeling of cynicism towards their work. 

Dr. Laurel Fick , who sits on the well-being council at St Vincent, agrees with the study but says the two go hand in hand. She says physicians are emotionally exhausted by watching insurance companies deny certain patients treatments. 

She also says the Electronic Health Records system plays a role. Doctors are having to spend more time typing what a patient is saying and not enough time listening. 

According to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, about 70% of patients in Indiana said their doctor’s always communicated well. Around half admit they didn’t understand the care given to them when they left the hospital. 

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“I think every Indiana hospital, every hospital in the country, that is the root at what we’re trying to accomplish, to take best care of patients. And we know burned out physicians take less good care of patients. So we know it’s a problem we have to address,” said Dr. Fick. 

Dr. Fick says studies like this one show physician burnout is real, but in the past doctors have feared reporting mental health issues to licensing agencies.

She says it’s a complex issue, but the solution can start at a local level. 

This Indianapolis doctor isn’t afraid to address the issue. She has implemented safe zone signs throughout the residency unit at St. Vincent, hoping to start the conversation with physicians in training as prevention rather than treatment. 

News 8 reached out to the Indiana State Medical Association for a comment on the study. 

They said 60% of ISMA members listed administrative burden as one of the top issues facing physicians in Indiana. 

They also said they’ve been active in supporting legislation reform in the Indiana General Assembly to advocate for increased transparency between insurance companies and physicians.