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The link between burnout and patient safety incidents was highest among younger doctors and emergency medicine physicians, it was said. Patients are also less likely to be satisfied with the treatment provided by doctors suffering from the syndrome.
The study comes after senior health leaders raised serious concerns over burnout among medical professionals working in the NHS.
On the back of dealing with the pandemic, doctors are now facing record waiting lists in hospitals, while GPs try to keep concerned patients healthy.
A damning report from the influential Health and Social Care Select Committee of the House of Commons, published last summer, found NHS and social care staff burnout had reached an “emergency” level and posed a risk to the future of services.
The latest study, led by academics at the University of Manchester, set out to examine the effects of the condition on a global scale.
They conducted a systematic review of all available research on doctor burnout.
The report said: “Burnout is a strong predictor for career disengagement in physicians as well as for patient care.
“Moving forward, investment strategies to monitor and improve physician burnout are needed as a means of retaining the healthcare workforce and improving the quality of patient care.”
Researchers analysed statistics from 170 studies, involving more than 239,000 doctors, and found burnout was linked to an almost four-fold decrease in job satisfaction.
They also found medics were more likely to regret their career choice.
The team said overall physician burnout had doubled patient safety incidents.
Emotional exhaustion is most common in doctors aged 31-50, and among those working in emergency medicine and intensive care, it was said.
The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.
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