Survey Healthcare Global, a subsidiary of Apollo Intelligence, a data collection service for health care market research, released a new report showing that 34 percent of physicians in six developed countries said they have observed an increase in medical errors as a result of staff shortages.1
Shortage of Health Care Professionals Affecting Physicians’ Mental Health
Survey Healthcare Global collected data from Feb. 14-16, 2022 from physicians in six developed countries that were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The countries included the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.2
The survey respondents were physicians that represented five specialties, which include family medicine/general practice, emergency medicine, pediatrics, intensive/critical care, and surgery.3
The survey revealed that 65 percent of physicians reported feeling frustrated, 54 percent had burnout and 52 percent felt unappreciated in the past three months. Over 50 percent of the physicians were experiencing chronic stress and have considered leaving their profession in the past three months.4 Eighteen percent of physicians said that they are more likely to drink, smoke, or use/abuse substances as a result of the chronic stress experienced at work.
Although a significant number of physicians expressed experiencing chronic work place stress and burnt out, nearly 75 percent said their organizations do not offer any wellness resources and programs to HCP employees.5 Dr. Jessi Gold, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis said:
Health care workers are not people who had good mental health before COVID. It’s not like COVID came and all of a sudden we’re having problems. We had longstanding problems.6
Physicians Report Patient Care Compromised Due to Inadequate Staffing
The report showed that 80 percent of physician respondents said that staffing problems are leading to longer patient wait times, and 69 percent said that healthcare professional shortages are resulting in poor quality patient care.7 Seventy two percent of respondents said that their patients have experienced delayed access to treatments, 71 percent said their patients experienced delays in routine care, and 59 percent said their patients experienced delays in surgeries. The physicians’ added that delays in treatments, routine care and surgeries have adversely impacted patients’ health and increased levels of suffering.8
Daniel S. Fitzgerald, CEO of Apollo Intelligence, said:
When physicians voice such strong concern about medical errors and the quality of patient care, healthcare leaders must take notice and redouble efforts to address the root causes of the staffing shortage. Apollo has been closely tracking physician stresses and experience from the onset of the pandemic, and we’ll continue to report key learnings on this important issue.9
Health Care Staff Shortages A Problem in U.S. Before the COVID Pandemic
The United States was experiencing a shortage of health care professionals prior to the COVID pandemic. According to the American Medical Association, in 2019, the U.S. had 20,000 fewer doctors than required to meet the country’s health care needs. There is a nursing shortage as well and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that every year through 2030, there will be approximately 195,000 vacancies for registered nurses.10
The COVID pandemic worsened the health care professional shortage. Almost 20 percent of healthcare professionals resigned from their jobs during the COVID pandemic, while another 12 percent were laid off. Of those health care professionals who remained in their jobs during the pandemic, 31 percent have considered resigning.11
Dharam Kaushik, MD, a urologist at the University of Texas Health in San Antonio said:
You have physicians, you have nurses, dropping out, retiring early, leaving practice, changing jobs. You’re experiencing loss of manpower in a field that was already short on manpower before the pandemic hit.12
Health Care Professionals Continue to Get Fired for Opposing COVID Vaccine Mandates
In spite of the health care professional shortage in the U.S., hundreds of health care professionals have been terminated or suspended from their jobs for refusing to get COVID vaccinations.13 Becker’s Hospital Review has complied a selected list of 55 health systems that have terminated health care professionals for non-compliance with COVID vaccine mandates, which can be found here.
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Click here to view References:
3 Shyrock T. 34% of doctors report increased medical errors due to staffing shortages. Medical Economics Mar. 21, 2022.
4 Business Wire. 34% of Doctors Worldwide Observed Increased Medical Errors Due to Staffing Shortages, as Their Mental Health Suffers, Says Survey Healthcare Global Report. Mar. 25, 2022.
6 Fox M. ‘Like drinking from a fire hose’: Health care workers traumatized by pandemic. CNN Dec. 15, 2021.
7 Business Wire. 34% of Doctors Worldwide Observed Increased Medical Errors Due to Staffing Shortages, as Their Mental Health Suffers, Says Survey Healthcare Global Report. Mar. 25, 2022.
9 DotMed.com. Doctors worldwide observe increased medical errors due to staffing shortages. Mar. 28, 2022.
10 Ollove M. Health Worker Shortage Forces States to Scramble. Pew Trusts Mar. 25, 2022.
11 Galvin G. Nearly 1 in 5 Health Care Workers Have Quit Their Jobs During the Pandemic. Morning Consult Oct. 4, 2021.
13 Lenthang M. Hundreds of hospital staffers fired or suspended for refusing COVID-19 vaccine mandate. ABC News Sept. 30, 2021.