US Doctors Overworked, Many Planning To Retire

A survey of physicians in the United States showed that almost half of doctors plan to reduce their workload or quit altogether, while 60 percent of general practice physicians said they would never recommend medicine as a career.

The Physicians’ Foundation sent surveys to 270, primary care doctors and 50,000 practicing specialists.

The 12,000 answers are considered representative of doctors as a whole, the group said, with a margin of error of about 1 percent. It found that 78 percent of those who answered believe there is a shortage of primary care doctors.

Seventy six percent of physicians said they are working at “full capacity” or “overextended and overworked”.

The findings support the assumption that not enough internal medicine or family practice doctors are trained or practicing in the United States, although there are plenty of specialist physicians.

“The whole thing has spun out of control. I plan to retire early even though I still love seeing patients. The process has just become too burdensome,” one doctor told The Physicians’ Foundation.

Doctor’s groups are lobbying for action to reduce their workload and hold the line on payments for treating Medicare, Medicaid and other patients with federal or state health insurance.

President-elect Barack Obama has made a point to address health care reform, and Congress has made similar vows.

Many of the health plans proposed by members of Congress, insurers and employers’s groups, as well as Obama’s, suggest that electronic medical records would go a long way to saving time and reducing costs.

More than 90 percent of those surveyed said the amount time spent on non-clinical paperwork has increased by 63 percent over the last three years, resulting in less time spent with patients.

“Going into this project we generally knew about the shortage of physicians; what we didn’t know is how much worse it could get over the next few years,” said Lou Goodman, PhD, President, The Physicians’ Foundation. 

“The bottom line is that the person you’ve known as your family doctor could be getting ready to disappear ““ and there might not be a replacement.”

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