Lessons learned from improving patient safety can be used to address clinician burnout, two patient safety experts put forth in a commentary published online December 10 in Annals of Internal Medicine. The piece was written by Dr. Albert Wu, professor in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s department of health policy and management, and Dr. Victor J. Dzau, president of the National Academy of Medicine.
In their column, the authors identify specific actions health care leaders can take to address burnout. Organizations should avoid blaming individuals for their own burnout. Instead, they should investigate cases of burnout in the same way other system failures are investigated. Leaders can stress the value on time away from work, community building, and peer support services. Finally, identifying the factors that contribute to burnout and gaps in clinician well-being are important areas of focus. Assessment tools aimed at these areas should be standardized and vetted.
The principles build on successes in research, implementation, and policy that have improved patient safety. To address clinician burnout, the researchers propose harnessing tools from risk management, leveraging existing assessment and accreditations processes, and implementing evidence-based solutions. Much like patient safety, each principle requires the buy-in and commitment from health care leadership, including hospital boards and regulators.
Dr. Wu is also director of the Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research at the Bloomberg School.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on December 13