Physician Burnout and Barriers to Care on Professional Applications.
AbstractWe surveyed New York physicians to study their perceptions of reporting requirements related to their own mental health care on professional applications, including whether they were experiencing symptoms of burnout. Over half of the responding physicians reported experiencing symptoms of burnout and these physicians were at increased odds of perceiving a barrier to seeking mental health care if they had to report such care on professional applications and renewals for medical licensure, malpractice, and hospital privileges and credentialing compared to physicians not experiencing symptoms of burnout. As state medical boards, hospitals, and insurers seek information to help assess risks posed by physicians, it is essential to strike an appropriate balance between their duty to protect the public and the physician's right to confidentiality. This balance can be assessed based on the questions that are asked on various professional applications and how information gleaned through physician responses is used. Overly intrusive questions, though well intentioned to protect the public, may run counter to current interpretations of federal law and may inhibit care-seeking among physicians, which is critical to both patient safety and physician health.