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Protocol-driven care causing doctor burnout

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Protocol-driven care causing doctor burnout

Endless protocols and a lack of involvement in decision-making are causing doctors to burnout, according to a leading surgeon. 

It is not just long working hours that is causing doctors to be emotionally exhausted and depressed, but instead it is the protocols that are driving patient care and high expectations placed on them by their patients, says Professor Bruce Waxman of Monash University.

Writing an editorial in the ANZ Journal of Surgery, Professor Waxman msays that surgeons are no longer involved in decision-making as it has been taken over by politicians, administrators and insurance companies.

Meanwhile, he says patients and families who are now much better informed from access to the internet and social networking sites are placing “enormous demands” on surgeons and have unrealistic expectations of the outcomes of surgery.

And surgeons may “become victims of their own cult image”, he says. 

He suggests that doctors need to care for themselves more and learn how to control their emotions to beat and survive a burnout as well as take part in research and do educational activities out of work.

He also insists there needs to be more sharing of the work-load, particularly in rural areas where he suggests surgeons from metropolitan teaching hospitals spend time on call in regional hospitals.


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