Why healthcare must fight against doc, nurse burnout

Healthcare leaders have a responsibility to lessen clinician burnout not only for the benefit of their employees, but also to improve the quality of patient care, according to a post from Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

"Organizations that achieve the greatest success recognize that patient experience and quality of care are directly linked to staff experience, and employee empowerment and engagement," writes Bridget Duffy, M.D., the chief medical officer of San Jose, California-based communications equipment manufacturer Vocera.

Thus, she writes, healthcare organizations cannot achieve the oft-cited Triple Aim of better care, better health and lower costs without changing it to the Quadruple Aim, in which the fourth component is the improvement of health workers' wellbeing.

Healthcare leaders must act now, Duffy argues, as burnout among clinical staff appears to be on the rise. Indeed, 46 percent of doctors report feeling worn down, according to a January survey, and research has also found that many nurses feel stressed out, unsupported by management and overburdened. The problem threatens patient safety and can drive staffers out of the healthcare field, the latter a pressing issue given the predicted physician shortage.

In their effort to curtail this trend, healthcare organizations have had success with a variety of strategies, according to the article. For example, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, California, follows a similar approach as the Cleveland Clinic, and offers a "lavender alert" system in the prenatal intensive care unit to summon rapid response teams to provide emotional support for employees and physicians, in addition to patients and their families, during times of high stress.

San Mateo Medical Center in the San Francisco Bay Area, meanwhile, reports that its daily check-ins with staff to ensure that their needs are met and their voices are heard have improved employee engagement and communication, according to the article.

Another creative solution to the problem of burnout among nurses is the use of mindfulness meditation, or "purposeful and nonjudgemental attentiveness to one's own experience, thoughts and feelings," FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the article