Physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals everywhere are experiencing burnout due to stress related factors. The suicide rate among physicians is more than double that of the general population. Burnout and depression can lead to medical error, something no patient wants to experience.
As they say, “to err is human.” Everyone makes mistakes. As medical practitioners, there is more at stake when we err than for the average person. A diagnostic error can delay needed treatment and harm patient outcome. Autopsy studies have found that there may be major diagnostic discrepancies in as many as 1 in 5 patients overall. For this reason, we must learn from our mistakes as fully as possible to avoid making them again.
With the recent high profile suicides in the news, many physicians are thinking about the importance of treating the whole patient, the role of empathy in medicine, and how best to observe the way a patient may be feeling emotionally in addition to how they are faring physically. Depression is dangerous and insidious, and we often feel that we must be on high alert to identify it in those we treat.
The nation’s 65-and-older population is growing every year, from 35 million in 2000 to 53 million in 2020. As this “baby boomer” generation reaches the age where chronic diseases become more prevalent, many medical providers have wondered how it will change the healthcare landscape. Baby boomers bring a high level of consumer savvy and familiarity with technology to the healthcare system, and with that comes higher expectations for providers and increased awareness of their own health issues. The influx of these people into chronic care management is likely to accelerate the movement of self-care, patient education, and whole person wellness, which stands to have a significant impact on the previously accepted state of the doctor-patient relationship.
Opioids. The very word can strike fear into a medical practitioner’s heart nowadays. While they are certainly an effective tool for managing pain in the short term, the dangers of extended use are causing serious problems in our country, not only in the medical industry, but the fields of criminal justice, mental health, economics, even the arena of marriage and family is being negatively impacted by the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction.
Water is a fundamental human need. From drinking to cooking to bathing, everyone must have water. But polluted water isn’t just dirty, it is deadly. Cholera. Botulism. Dysentery. These are just a few of the many diseases that can be transmitted by water. Some 1.8 million people die every year of waterborne diarrheal diseases. Tens of millions of others around the world suffer serious illnesses from an array of water-related ailments, many of which are easily preventable.