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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Burnout in the NICU setting and its relation to safety culture.

Profit J, Sharek PJ, Amspoker AB, et al. BMJ quality & safety. 2014;23:806-13.

Many health care professionals exhibit symptoms of burnout. National studies show that approximately one-third of practicing physicians and nurses display hallmark symptoms of emotional exhaustion and diminished sense of personal accomplishment. Far from simply an issue around well-being, provider burnout has been linked to more frequent adverse events, and high rates of burnout among primary care physicians have raised concerns that patient access and quality of care will be affected. This large study, conducted in 44 neonatal intensive care units, documents a strong connection between higher rates of individual provider burnout and worsened perceived safety culture at the unit level. These findings strongly suggest that addressing clinician burnout is an essential step in improving safety culture and teamwork. In a 2013 AHRQ WebM&M interview, noted safety culture researcher Dr. Bryan Sexton describes building resilience—the ability to deal with unexpected events and setbacks, in many ways the opposite of burnout—as a prerequisite for large-scale improvement efforts.