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Doctors’ stress endangering patients

19 June 2013

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Doctors’ health problems are accounting for an increasing number of fitness to practice proceedings, it has been revealed. 

UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS has urged doctors to look after their own health in order to protect patients’ wellbeing. 

Doctors suffering from burnout should seek help before patient safety is compromised, the organisation warns. 

Anxiety, irritability and fatigue can all be symptoms of burnout, which can affect a doctor’s judgement, concentration and productivity. 

Increased workloads have made it more likely for doctors to suffer from stress of health problems. 

MDDUS medical adviser Dr Barry Parker said: “A doctor’s job has never been more demanding, with a rise in the volume and complexity of workload. Doctors are renowned for being resilient… but they are only human and may reach a breaking point without seeking any help.

“Dealing with stress and being overworked may be acknowledged as a way of life for doctors, but there is a tipping point. From our experience at MDDUS, seeking help early can make all the difference for those who face these problems.

General Medical Council (GMC) Good Medical Practice guidance states that: “If you know or suspect that you have a serious condition that you could pass on to patients, or if your judgment or performance could be affected by a condition or its treatment, you must consult a suitably qualified colleague. 

“You must follow their advice about any changes to your practice they consider necessary. You must not rely on your own assessment of the risk to patients.”