Study: Poor physician working conditions may affect care quality

So, you mean to say that doctors are actually human beings? A new study appearing in The Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that physicians, like anyone else, tend to perform worse when their working conditions are difficult. The study, which appears this week, concluded that time pressures and unpleasant organizational cultures lead to stress, burnout and eventually could result in worse patient care.

And such stresses, unfortunately, are present in abundance, according to a survey conducted by the researchers. For example, they found that 53.1 percent of primary-care doctors felt time pressure during physical examinations, and 48.1 percent reported having chaotic working environments.

Just under 49 percent said their jobs were moderately or highly stressful, and 26.5 percent reported burnout. A full 30.1 percent said they were at least moderately likely to leave their practices within two years, frighteningly enough.

It's worth noting that the researchers didn't see any immediate correlation between stress and patient care quality or rates of medical errors. However, they note that since stress drives doctors out of practices, damaging continuity of care, overall patient wellness could suffer.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Kaiser Health News piece

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