ICU Burnout is real.

From MedPage Today:

Burnout in the intensive care unit is nothing new. But there is increasing awareness of the unacceptable cost of provider burnout to ICU workers, ICU patients, and the economic bottom line of hospitals, an expert panel agreed Sunday at an early session of the¬†Society of Critical Care Medicine’s (SCCM) annual meeting.

Critical care specialist Curtis Sessler, MD, of Virginia Commonwealth University’s West Hospital, told the audience that while some things that contribute to provider burnout in the ICU cannot be changed, many others can be addressed by emphasizing a healthy work environment and by minimizing the time devoted to “menial” tasks.

“That means changing the ratio of how much work we do that truly has meaning versus the paperwork that goes along with it,” he said.

But stress is also a major contributor to burnout, and that’s inevitable in the critical care environment.

“The term ‘a matter of life or death’ is often a cliche. But in the ICU it’s a reality,” said SCCM president Jerry Zimmerman, MD, PhD, of Seattle Children’s Hospital. “The constant stress associated with making life-or-death decisions on a daily basis is enormously taxing, and it takes a toll. While we can’t eliminate the reality of a stressful work environment, we can create ICUs that are more nurturing and supportive. It’s critical that we do so, because most of use are at risk for transition to burnout syndrome, and the vitality and sustainability of our critical care workforce is at stake.” (more…)