Medical burnout refers to a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress among medical professionals. Stress can occur in any profession but people working in the medical, nursing, social work or counselling areas are most prone to burnout because of the amount and pressure of the work associated with these professions.
The negative consequences of burnout are that physicians and other health care workers are more prone to errors, provide lesser quality of care and have lower patient satisfaction. It can manifest itself in drug abuse, depression, alcoholism and, in extreme cases, suicide. Burnout can lead to misdiagnosis and serious malpractice and doctors in this state are less able to connect with patients and provide the level of care required. It is a gradual process and medical professionals need to be on the lookout for warning signs and seek help in a timely manner.