Why Does This Doctor Talk about His Addiction? Because “Secrets Make You Sick”

[The following post by Dr. Peter Grinspoon has been shared with us by Harvard Health Publishing after originally appeared on their website in May of 2019.]

Going Public with Sobriety…

 

Alcoholism is hardly a rare disorder in the United States. According to recent studies, 12.7% of adult Americans currently suffer from alcohol use disorder, more commonly known as alcoholism; according to other studies, 29% will meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder at some point during their adult lives.

If you add drugs to the mix, addiction (substance use disorder, including alcoholism) is even more common: it is estimated that in 2015, 20.8 million Americans met criteria for a substance use disorder within the prior year.

Given how common this problem is, one might think addiction would be readily accepted by our society, and that all one would have to do in order to get support is to admit one’s problem and ask for help. Right? Continue reading “Why Does This Doctor Talk about His Addiction? Because “Secrets Make You Sick””

Is “Meaningful Use” Contributing to Physician Burnout?

Aligning quality incentive measures with physician wellness: When “Meaningful Use” leads to less meaning in a physician’s practice

By Ami Bhatt, MD, FACC
July 5, 2018

Lately, I have been struck by how often the phrases physician burnout and meaningful use are used in any given day, leading both to suffer the same fate: neither one is well defined. While speaking with colleagues across the country, I’ve asked the question, “What does meaningful use mean to you?” The answers I’ve received vary from expletives, to “waste of time,” “hoop to jump through,” and “garbage in, garbage out.” Those in leadership or quality improvement positions have a different insight: “My physicians call any task asked of them ‘meaningful use’,” or “The institution has many governing bodies, each with their own expectations, but they all call their needs ‘meaningful use’ which frustrates my physicians.” The logistics of meaningful use in the electronic health record (EHR) are also often noted: “I forget more than I remember it, but now there are prompts,” and “The extra 45 seconds per note adds up with a busy clinic.” Continue reading “Is “Meaningful Use” Contributing to Physician Burnout?”

Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide

By Ami B. Bhatt, MD, FACC
June 14, 2018

Since the two very sudden public suicide deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, society has again recognized that we never know what is under the surface of another’s façade. As physicians, these tragic occurrences emphasize that our caregiving requires seeing the entirety of an individual’s many parts.

While we acknowledge that the façade is not fake—it is but one true representation of an individual, well-curated, like pages on Facebook or Instagram—no one mourns the corporate façade created for these individuals. We mourn the fact that despite feeling we know someone, we didn’t see it coming. This is that much harder when it is a loved one, and most frightening when you might see it in yourself.  Especially, if you are a physician. Continue reading “Turning the Tide on Physician Suicide”

Improving Physician Wellness by Addressing Decision Fatigue

By Ami B. Bhatt, MD, FACC
April 12, 2018

Physician burnout continues to be a significant concern for the medical workforce. Importantly, it can also affect patient experience (encompassing both quality and safety of care). Over half of United States physicians report at least one symptom of burnout including a decrease in empathy, decreased self-worth, and emotional exhaustion. Whereas the original research from several years ago suggested that front-line physicians in the primary care and emergency medicine space are at greatest risk, we now know that burnout is seen in many medical specialties. Not only do half of US physicians report being “burned out,” an equal percentage would not recommend a career in medicine to their children.1, 2 Continue reading “Improving Physician Wellness by Addressing Decision Fatigue”

The Opioid Crisis and Physician Burnout: A Tale of Two Epidemics

December 14, 2017

[The following post by Steven A. Adelman, MD has been shared with us by Harvard Health Publishing where it originally appeared in June of 2016. In light of increasing pressure on physicians to become part of the solution to the opioid epidemic, we invite you to share your thoughts on physician burnout, and the role it plays, in the comment section after reading this post.]

In April [2016], the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, attended a meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists. In an exclusive interview with MedPage Today, he shared his mounting concerns about two matters: the impact of burnout on physicians and our society’s current opioid crisis. Dr. Murthy stated that he views physicians as being an essential part of the solution to the epidemic of drug overdoses, which have exceeded motor vehicle accidents as one of the leading causes of death.

Dr. Murthy correctly linked the well-being of health professionals with that of the general public, stating, “As I think about the emotional well-being for our country, I am particularly interested in how to cultivate emotional well-being for healthcare providers. If healthcare providers aren’t well, it’s hard for them to heal the people for whom they are caring.” Continue reading “The Opioid Crisis and Physician Burnout: A Tale of Two Epidemics”

A Primary Care Doctor Delves into the Opioid Epidemic

November 14, 2017

[The following post by Monique Tello, MD, MPH, has been shared with us by Harvard Health Publishing, having originally appeared on their website in February 2017.]

Our nephew Christopher died of a heroin overdose in October 2013. It had started with pain pills and experimentation, and was fueled by deep grief. He was charismatic, lovable, a favorite uncle, and a hero to all the children in his life. His death too young was a huge loss to our family. I have always felt that I didn’t do enough to help prevent it, and perhaps, in a way, even contributed. Continue reading “A Primary Care Doctor Delves into the Opioid Epidemic”