>> Working grueling hours and facing down high pressure conditions have long been badges of honor among American doctors in a system seemingly built to test their limits. But now those same pressures are dding up to more medical professionals burning out, and battling emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased effectiveness.
Now some US hospitals and insurers are starting to recognize their role in the crisis and are taking action. Reuters' reporter Julie Steenhuysen visited Michigan's St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.>> Burnout has become a nationwide problem. About one in every two doctors in the country experience it. Here at St. Joe's, a lot of the doctors do a variety of things to take care of themselves including organic gardening, or taking part in an exercise class in the middle of the day.
>> Vascular surgeon Dr. Brian Halloran says in this garden he's found much needed breathing room.>> To me gardening is the form of my therapy. I do suffer from some of the same elements that many of my colleagues in terms of our work, and burnouts, and the need to find releases, and-
>> 50% of the doctors at St. Joseph Mercy showed signs of burnout in a survey last year. A score that's on part with the national average and is rising. The work overload is fueled by growing clerical demands. Many primary care physicians now spend over a half of their 11-hour day performing data entry tasks.
And they often finish their work at home, which has a negative impact on their work-life balance. A 2015 Mayo Clinic study found that more than 7% of doctors had considered suicide in the past 12 months compared with 4% of other workers. And an estimated 300 to 400 doctors a year do go through with it.
Beyond the emotional toll, burnout is also bad for business, eroding patient satisfaction and quality scores. If a patient is harmed by burnout-related medical errors, hospitals have to bear the legal expense of defending their doctors. And when a physician quits, that can cause hospitals over $1 million in recruitment, training, and productivity costs.