ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – While doctors are tasked with helping us to stay healthy not only physically, but also emotionally, sometimes the health of those doctors is overlooked.
Recently published studies show across the country, one physician dies from suicide every day.
Mayo Clinic physician, Dr. Lotte Dyrbye says data shows three to four hundred physicians die by suicide every year, “We’re taking care of everybody else and sometimes we forget about the importance of taking care of ourselves.”
“Medicine is stressful and it’s supposed to be and that makes total sense right but if you get too much stress in the system you don’t get optimal performance so than it impacts patient quality, patient safety and cost of care all these things we’re very passionate about,” said Dr. Dyrbye. She is talking about burnout which can lead to insomnia lack of appetite and other mental health issues, adding to the problem is that some physicians don’t look for help.
Dr. Dyrbye says many things can lead to physicians not seeking help, “State licensure process, so every year I have to fill out a form and there’s a variety of questions on it but one of the questions on the form can be you know if I’ve ever been diagnosed with depression.”
Answering yes to that question could lead to restrictions on their medical licenses said Dr. Dyrbye, “Nonetheless, it makes doctors really worried and gets in the way of them seeking care.”
At some hospitals, part of the problem has nothing to do with patients, but rather the business part of the job, “It’s when there are things that are getting in the way of making a difference to patients that the stress really gets out of control and culminates in burn out,” stated Dr. Dyrbye.
Mayo Clinic started studying burn out among physicians in the early 2000s and is now seeing that rate decline.
“Burn out rates today are actually a little bit lower than they were three to four years ago so that’s sorta of a good sign,” said Dr. Dyrbye.
Dr. Dyrbye attributes this to better recognition of burnout symptoms by physicians along with added support from Mayo itself.