The Cost of Physician Burnout

Copyright: <a href=''>ivelinradkov / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

The issue of burnout in the medical profession is becoming more known by the day. But what many don’t realize is the monetary cost that physician burnout has on doctors and hospitals. In this article, we’re going to investigate some of the ways in which physician burnout is costing hospitals, doctors, and patients money.

Burnout Adds Up

It’s no secret that burnout is a serious issue among physicians at all levels – with up to 54% of US doctors reporting burnout. Some degree of burnout is healthy, as it balances our positive and negative energy. Much of the negative energy of burnout consists of the mental, emotional, and physical injury to the doctors who experience it. This also indirectly impacts the doctors’ patients. Many hospitals are now realizing the financial toll that burnout can take.

Burned out doctors are statistically more likely to make costly errors that may result in medical errors and even malpractice cases. While much less frequent, these costs can exceed millions of dollars. A burned out physician who moves to another job or stage of their career will experience some positive energy, but on the flip side the hospital receives the financial burden to recruit a replacement for the physician (which can cost up to $1 million). The expenditures related to the much more common inefficiencies of burned out physicians have not even been well studied, but estimates place the cost much higher than the average cost of high end physician wellness programs.

Some hospitals are starting to realize these financial effects, and are beginning to build burnout prevention initiatives as a response.

Addressing the Issue of Burnout 

So how do we effectively address the prevalence of burnout among physicians? It’s got to be a systematic change. We all need to do our best to educate physicians and hospital administrators on the symptoms, causes, and dangers of burnout. The next step is to provide tools that physicians can potentially use to build their resilience and recover from the negative energy. There is no one-size-fits all, and yet there is plenty of evidence of more effective strategies. If you can’t depend upon the system changes, physicians can definitely explore options to begin their journey to save dollars on burnout. System change is simply much more cost effective.

WellnessEdge- Powered by SurgeonMasters

If you’re struggling with burnout in your organization or in your own personal practice, SurgeonMasters can help. The WellnessEdge™, powered by SurgeonMasters, delivers strategies and techniques that surgeons can use to enact change and mitigate the issues that lead to burnout. Learn more online or contact