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Mindfulness practices can reduce burnout, lawsuits.

Mindfulness could play a role in reducing physician burnout and, in turn, medical malpractice claims.

Burnout is "a massive problem," Dr. Daniel Friedland said at the Physician Insurers Association of America's May medical liability conference in Toronto. "I don't know of any other industry where burnout is so high. Here, we have physicians who are helping patients navigate their stress-related concerns and, in general, they tend to be more stressed out than their patients." Several studies have linked burnout to medical errors. A survey of 7,905 surgeons found that each one-point increase in physicians' emotional exhaustion was associated with a 5% increase in error reporting. Each one-point increase in depersonalization was associated with an 11% increase in reporting an error (Ann. Surg. 2010 June [doi: 10.1097/SLA.obO 13e318 lbfdab3]).

In a study of patient performance ratings of 353 physicians at a U.S. teaching hospital, researchers at the Harvard Risk Management Foundation found patients were 26% more likely to sue doctors in the middle tier and 110% more likely to sue those in the bottom tier, compared with physicians in the top patient satisfaction level (Am. J. Med. 2005;118:1126-33).

Two primary components of burnout are emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, said Dr. Colin P. West, professor of medicine, medical education, and biostatistics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"If you are depersonalized toward others and you're not treating them as other human beings in the physician-patient relationship, it seems reasonable that that's to be associated with poor communication skills and that could then lead to increased litigation risk," Dr. West said in an interview.

Gaining control of impending stress, anxiety, and tension is the first step to overcoming burnout, said Dr. Friedland, an internist and CEO of SuperSmartHealth, a consulting firm that provides health and wellness initiatives, physician resilience programs, and other management strategies to businesses and individuals.

"[Research] suggests when you do such interventions, you can make pretty substantial differences" in physician burnout, Dr. West said.

cpnews@frontlinemedcom.com

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Title Annotation:PRACTICE TRENDS
Author:Gallegos, Alicia
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2014
Words:335
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