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Doctors’ Workloads Too Heavy to be Safe, Says Survey

A group of scientists at Johns Hopkins University has conducted a survey showing that the workloads of almost half of U.S. doctors are too heavy to be safe.

The survey was published in the Jan. 29 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine and reported on the website

“Excessively increasing the workload may lead to suboptimal care and less direct patient care time, which may paradoxically increase, rather than decrease costs,” according to the authors of the JAMA article.  The purpose of the article was to determine what effect a heavy workload had on patient safety and quality of care.

The necessity of caring for more patients has been an “ever-growing problem,” according to Medical News Today.

The survey was based on reports of 506 hospital-based physicians. Their median age was 38 and their average annual income was $180,000. The survey revealed the penalties patients pay as their doctors take on too many patients.

According to the survey’s authors, hospitalists frequently reported that excess workload:

  • Prevented them from fully discussing treatment options
  • Caused delays in patient admissions and/or discharges
  • Worsened patient satisfaction

“Over 20 percent reported that their average workload likely contributed to patient transfers, morbidity, or even mortality,” the article said.

Ironically, despite the increased workload, another JAMA article reported that doctors on average are working fewer hours. Between 1996 and 2008, the average number of work hours a week for a doctor fell from about 55 to 51.  Researchers said the overall decrease in hours worked corresponded to the doctors’ being paid 25 percent less, adjusted for inflation.

Researchers for this study found that doctors worked less in cities where they were paid less and worked more when they were paid more elsewhere. The latter information was provided by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

If you believe that you received poor or negligent treatment due to your doctor’s busy schedule, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. To learn more, contact the Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers of Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today.


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