To the Editor We read with great interest the article by Windover et al1 regarding physician burnout in a large academic medical center. The authors note that in their study, burnout was associated with outcomes such as an increase in ombudsmen complaints, loss of productivity, and physicians leaving the organization.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has noted2 that the burnout rate for physicians is as high as 50% among all practicing physicians. Both the AMA and American College of Physicians (ACP) have recently increased their efforts to address burnout. However, the concept of physician burnout is not well defined in the literature. Maslach et al3 famously described 3 aspects of burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of accomplishment) and developed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) to assess burnout, which has led many to use the MBI to assess burnout prevalence. Even so, we would like to note that the MBI is not a diagnostic tool to diagnose burnout nor does it allow for determination of when to intervene to prevent potential harm.
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Chang EY, Bakinde N, Umar A. Correlates and Outcomes of Physician Burnout. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(7):999–1000. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.2384
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