Physician viewpoint: Surgeons 'shielded' from certain paperwork, administrative tasks that cause burnout

Increasing administrative responsibilities and electronic paperwork are causing many physicians to experience burnout at higher rates, however, surgeons appear to be less affected, according to Daniel Marchalik, MD.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Dr. Marchalik, a urologist and medical director of physician wellbeing at MedStar Health in Columbia, Md., described surgeon's advantages to working in the operating room and how it has "shielded" most of them from administrative tasks and pressures other clinicians experience.

Dr. Marchalik said that the nature of the OR has prevented work relating to EHRs and insurance companies, allowing surgeons to spend their shifts focused on the work they consider most meaningful: operating, according to the report.

"It would be difficult to imagine an OR dynamic that resembles a day in the office — a world where the anesthesiologist is asked to prepare the sterile instruments and the circulating nurse performs the intubation," Dr. Marchalik said. "Yet we don't think twice about an oncologist taking a patient's vital signs, faxing authorization requests or charting vaccination histories."

To help alleviate physician burnout, Dr. Marchalik stressed solutions such as in-person and electronic documentation assistance as well as enhanced task-sharing among providers.

More articles on EHRs:
EHR intervention teams may help reduce clinician burnout, study finds
Boston Children's physicians' organization implements EHR tools to identify at-risk asthma patients
Kentucky hospital implements $2M Epic EHR: 3 things to know

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