Something is wrong


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Fam Pract Manag. 2000 Jun;7(6):13.

To the Editor:

Thank you for the nice article about compassion fatigue [“Overcoming Compassion Fatigue,” [April 2000]. However, the next article, “How Emotional Distress Shapes the Patient Visit,” revealed the results of a study which found that emotionally distressed patients were seen an average of 11.5 minutes and patients diagnosed with depression or anxiety were seen an average of 12.8 minutes. How can any patient be seen in such a short amount of time? No wonder doctors — and patients — are burning out.

I'm a solo family physician in a suburban area of a major metropolitan city. I schedule 30 minutes for routine patient visits and one hour or more for new patients. This allows ample time for emotionally distressed patients to have their needs addressed. I love my work, and my patients love the care they get. My practice is emotionally and financially rewarding. Something is very wrong with the way medicine is being practiced if over half the physicians are feeling compassion fatigue and burnout.


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