Increased Physician Turnover May Be Associated with Burnout Resulting in High Cost

HealthDay News — Physicians who are experiencing burnout are more than twice as likely to leave their organization within 2 years, and this is associated with significant economic costs, according to a report from the American Medical Association.

Maryam Hamidi, PhD, and Mickey Trockel, MD, PhD, from the Stanford Medicine WellMD Center, note that almost 60 physicians would leave Stanford Medicine within two years if nothing were done to address burnout. For the 58 physicians who would leave Stanford, the economic loss over 2 years would range from $15.5 million to $55.5 million.

The researchers surveyed a random sample of physicians in 2013 on burnout, work hours, surgical specialty, anxiety, depression, and sleep-related impairment. 

They reviewed data in 2015 to identify which physicians had left the organization. The group of physicians that had left had slightly higher anxiety, depression, and sleep-related impairment scores, but there was no significant between-group difference. Burnout was identified as the variable that explained the difference: compared with those not experiencing burnout, physicians with burnout in 2013 were more than twice as likely to leave the organization. Twenty-three percent of physicians who left Stanford had burnout, compared with 16% of those who did not leave the organization.

“Aside from the humanistic reasons, we’re also trying to make a point that organizations should invest money into preventing burnout,” Hamidi said in a statement.

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At Stanford, physician burnout costs at least $7.75 million a year [news release]. Chicago, Illinois: American Medical Association. Published November 17, 2017. Accessed November 27, 2017.