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Doctors’ Stress Levels Affect Nursing Home Patient Care

We recently reported that a lack of nurses has led to increased levels of burnout and more infections throughout nursing homes in Florida.doc.jpg

Now, our Sebastian nursing home abuse attorneys understand that doctors, too, are experiencing those same kinds of work-fatigue that can lead to problems for patients – especially those in nursing homes, who are totally dependent on others for their care and well-being.

The new report, released by the Medical Society of the State of New York, reports that almost half of all doctors in the country indicate experiencing at least one major sign of professional burnout.

The team received responses from more than 7,250 doctors across the country. Those physicians worked in a variety of settings, including emergency care, family doctors, neurologists and those who oversee long-term care patients.

Undoubtedly, this can have an impact on the quality of patient care.

Adequate physician oversights at nursing home facilities in Sebastian and throughout Florida and the country is already in question. Many nursing homes don’t have an onsite doctor to evaluate even serious medical conditions. It’s often left up to nurses (who are overworked as well) to make critical calls on diagnosis and treatment.

That could mean that by the time a nursing home patient gets to a doctor, they are sicker.

It’s no surprise, then, that doctors are reporting higher rates of emotional exhaustion, a lack of enthusiasm, and increases in depression, cynicism and even suicidal thoughts. In fact, about 46 percent said they’d had at least some level of burnout.

Compare this to the general public, which has reported about a 28 percent rate of burnout.

Researchers reported that we all have a stake in this because when doctors are burned out or dissatisfied in their positions, we are more likely to see poorer patient outcomes, all sorts of medical errors and patients who don’t walk away having had a good experience under the circumstances.

Many media reports have also indicated that there is an increasing doctor shortage across the board. Those doctors who are available are more likely to gravitate toward fields that pay more – cardiac care, oncology, surgery, pediatrics – as opposed to geriatric medicine and care of the elderly.

With fewer access to preventative care for nursing home residents, we are likely to see a spike in emergency room visits for these individuals.

It can be difficult to know whether any given nursing home is going to provide adequate care for your loved one in terms of access to a doctor. Some questions you can ask ahead of time include:

–Is there a doctor on site? If not, how often does he or she visit or under which special circumstances?

–What are the physician’s qualifications?

–How can I reach the physician if I have questions about my loved one’s care?

–What is the ratio of staff to residents during each shift?

–How often with the physician review or change my loved one’s individual care plan? What is the protocol for handling any problems?

Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
Many U.S. Doctors Have Symptoms of Burnout: Survey, By Alan Mozes, HealthDay, U.S. News & World Report

More Blog Entries:
Fewer Nurses + More Burnout = Higher Rates of Infection, Neglect, Aug. 13, 2012, Sebastian Nursing Home Abuse Blog

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