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Physician Workloads Threatening Quality of Care, Study Finds

Feb 14, 2013, 12:00 PM

Four in 10 physicians say their typical patient load “exceeds safe levels” at least once a month, causing the quality of care they provide to suffer, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). More than one-third of physicians (36%) reported their workloads exceeded safe levels at least weekly.

In the survey of more than 500 self-identified hospitalists in an online physician community, respondents said their workloads had caused patient care to suffer. Respondents reported that inadequate time with a patient had caused them to order potentially unnecessary tests or procedures, and that their workloads had “likely contributed” to a host of poor patient outcomes, including morbidity and mortality.

Among the other problems physicians attributed to excessive workloads: inability to fully discuss treatment options; delayed admissions and discharge; increased readmissions; worsened patient satisfaction; and worsened overall quality of care.

Read the study abstract.
Read more about the results in Medpage Today [free subscription required].

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.