The last time you went to the hospital, did it seem like the doctors and nurses who treated you were barely paying attention? Did they dismiss your concerns or seem indifferent about your health? Later, did you have to call for test results several times before getting what you needed?
It’s possible that the hospital staff was deliberately rude or lazy toward you. But the root cause of your bad experience might have been burnout, a growing problem in the American healthcare system.
What is burnout?
Burnout is a common symptom of physical and emotional exhaustion that is often found among people who work high-stress jobs like nursing or doctor. It can cause a healthcare professional to lose interest in their work and leave them unable to feel compassion for a seriously ill patient. The pandemic, especially when hospitals and ICU wards in the Chicago area and nationwide were full, has greatly increased reports of burnout in the medical community.
From the patient’s perspective, a burned-out doctor or nurse is likely to provide substandard care. They might fail to order a necessary test or not bother to read the results carefully enough. They might ignore you as you describe your symptoms or dismiss your questions with curt non-answers. In other words, the effects of their burnout might lead to serious errors that make your health worse and impact your life for months or even years.
You should not have to pay for a doctor’s burnout
Ultimately, you are entitled to a decent standard of medical care every time you go to the hospital. Whether or not the facility is short-staffed and the physicians and nurses are overworked is out of your control. It is up to the hospital to ensure that its staff is mentally ready to treat each patient to the best of their abilities.