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'Mass exodus of physicians is taking place'

A new study shows that 6 of 10 doctors across American plan to cut back on work or make some other adjustments, about the same number believe physicians have little or no influence on the health-care system, and nearly 7 of 10 often or always feel burnout.

The study comes from the Physicians Foundation.

Significantly, it shows only half are planning to continue their current work load, with options including retirement, cutting back on hours, finding a non-clinical job, selling a practice or merging with another group.

The results backed another recent study from the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, which found 48 percent of doctors are considering leaving patient care or making a drastic reduction in the number of patients they see.

“People in America think we have the best medical care there is, and yet a mass exodus of physicians is taking place,” said Twila Brase, president of the CCHF.

“It is not the job they signed up for, not the profession they gave their life for or went to school decades to achieve. They actually cared about patients, and wanted to serve patients, but that care component is being driven out of the system.

“They were on a mission, and the mission has been thwarted.”

She warned the result will be that patients may lose their longtime doctors. And she blames, in large part, the Obamacare mandates for electronic health records for all Americans.

The records must be created by doctors.

Brase said the new findings say 78 percent of physicians have experienced burnout in their medical practices, “and one of the chief culprits contributing to this burnout is the frustration physicians feel with the inefficiency and controls imposed by the government-mandated EHR.”

Other findings include that nearly 80 percent say the patient-doctor relationship is the most satisfying part of their work, nearly 66 percent say electronic records requirements hurt their interaction with patients, 80 percent of doctors are at “full capacity” or beyond, 46 percent of physicians have plans to change careers.

“Today’s physicians are overwhelmed, yet 25 percent of them took the time to write comments,” Brase noted. “This shows how strongly physicians feel about what’s happening to the practice of medicine today and how bureaucracy, the EHR and burnout are affecting their profession and their lifelong careers.”

Brase’s book “Big Brother in the Exam Room” quotes a doctor who said the Electronic Health Records “makes me so slow and ”

“I am so frustrated and just want to walk away. … I feel trapped and betrayed. I did not go to medical school to sit on my butt for four to six hours a day doing data entry in a computer.”

The new study listed its own key findings as 31 percent of physicians identify as independent practice owners, 80 percent of employed physicians work more hours yet see fewer patients than practice owners, 62 percent are pessimistic about the future of medicine, 69 percent are prescribing fewer pain medications, 55 percent say their morale is negative or very negative and 89 percent sometimes, often or always feel burnout.