Doctors becoming victims of burnout

Recent incident of 54 years Neuro-Surgeon from Nizam Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), Hyderabad suffered a massive cardiac arrest while speaking at the Neurological conference in London. Immediate CPR and ventilation at the hospital failed to salvage him and later declared dead in a London hospital. In another shocking incident 36 years, young Lady Gynaecologist from Nalgonda collapsed immediately after surgery. These two incidents have sent chills among the medical fraternity and their state of health in India. It is reported that Doctor who is supposed to be healthy, fit, strive to create a healthier society and send a positive message to the society are increasingly becoming victims of burnout.

What is burnout? Burnout is a state of emotional, mental and physical overtiredness triggered by extreme and sustained stress. Medical Professionals, Nurses and Transplant Coordinators are exposed to burnout.


The WHO defines burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.” burnout is a “syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Doctors who take enormous care of complex sick and suffering patients have failed to take care of themselves.

As per the recent studies; Critical care Physicians, Neurologists, Neurosurgeons’ face highest burnouts (48%) followed by Physicians (47%) and Obstetrics and gynecologist (46%).

Stress among Interns, residents and Post Graduates is significantly higher than average (Doctors & Suicide, By Jeannie Aschkenasy on December 31, 2019)

Shocking! Study shows 30% of Indian doctors suffer depression, 80% face risk of burnout. Suicide rates globally are reported to be much higher among doctors than among other professional groups or the general population. (Pooja P Financial Express Published: August 21, 2019)

Doctors recorded the highest suicide rate of any profession, as per the literature review presented at the American Psychiatric Association conference. As many as 40 physicians per 1,00,000 die by suicide every year, In the United States. (Canadian Medical Association Journal 2018 Jun 18; 190(24): E752–E753.)

Reason for Burnout:

Long working hours (Usually busy practitioners work for more than 10-12 hrs/day)

Verbal/emotional sometimes physical abuse at the hands of patients/caregivers

Frequent negative patient-related outcomes and 

Stressful interpersonal interactions among colleagues.

This stress manifests in:

Prescription errors or faults in patient care

Losing temper with patients/caregivers

Sleep disorders.

Inability to give adequate attention/time to their patients

Poor coordination and communication skills

Lack of empathy on part of their seniors.

Professional competitions & rivalry.

Coping strategies for Doctors:

Communicate with colleagues, seniors and discuss all the issues related to patients.

Give quality time to the patient’s counsel in vernacular language the treatment modality, medication, ICU stay, cost of the treatment, outcome without any inhibition. Listen with rapt attention and clarify all the doubts of patients.

Pay attention to breathing. Stress-relief breathing is a do-anywhere technique that aids in relaxation and clear thinking.

Practice meditation.

Talk it out with your peers. Residency is a classic shared experience in medicine. Make use of it by recounting stressful incidents to other residents and learn what stresses them out. The perspective it brings can be relaxing for both of you.

Involve in outdoor playing, socializing, be cheerful and create hope among others, walk and exercise. Develop a happy attitude.

Spend time with family and nature. Discuss your stress with friends/spouse and relatives. Play with pets. Play with children.

Try to reduce working hours.

Compiled by Mr. Pramod N Sulikeri 98443 66188


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