Patient Flow Challenges Contributing to Provider Burnout

Patient Flow Challenges Contributing to Provider Burnout

Patient flow obstacles can contribute significantly to nurse, physician, and other provider stress in four key areas.

There has been frequent reporting about the problem of provider workforce shortages within hospitals and health systems and the related burnout experienced when working in high-stress situations during the Covid-19 pandemic. There are pre-existing and contributing patient flow challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, which can lead to burnout, and therefore are worth discussing.

Exposing the Problem

The extent of provider burnout over the course of the pandemic is well documented. In February 2022, for example, results from a nurse survey commissioned by a prominent staffing firm showed 56% of nurses reported that their mental health and well-being has suffered due to the pandemic, and 41% are considering leaving the profession for good. Also, the American Nurses Association released a statement calling on President Biden and Congress to address the burnout issue, urging that more needs to be done “to effectively investigate and mitigate the root causes of nursing shortages, and improve working conditions.”

Widespread burnout and disengagement among providers was simmering even before Covid-19, according to a study published by JAMA Network Open in 2021. Although released after the pandemic began, the study examines nurses’ responses to a survey fielded in 2018 that included questions about burnout. Researchers found that nurses who reported leaving or were considering leaving their job mostly attributed their decision to burnout, a stressful work environment, lack of effective leadership, and inadequate staffing.

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