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Doctors have their own diagnosis: 'Moral distress' from an inhumane health system

Doctors have their own diagnosis: ‘Moral distress’ from an inhumane health system

The terms “moral distress” and “moral injury” were first used in a military context to characterize the torment felt by soldiers as they tried to process and justify their actions amid the cruelty of war. In more recent years, these terms have been used to describe the feelings of guilt, sadness, and defeat felt by healthcare professionals when we know what our patients need but can’t provide it. Even in well-resourced practices, doctors often feel frustrated that they can’t spend time with patients who need it and have little control over their schedules.  Lisa Doggett, MD, NPR, August 2, 2023

AOP Response: Moral distress is real. Physician burnout is real; doctors and nurses are leaving the field. We recognize the pressure on doctors to treat medical conditions stemming from unhealthy environments that we can’t change.  We do everything we can to take the pressure off.  We leave decisions about operations, schedules, and workflow to our doctors and their frontline staff.  We foster career satisfaction by offering leadership development and mission programs.  We promote local sponsorships and charity work that help AOP staff feel good about their commitment to their careers and our company.  We want our physicians to do what’s right for each individual patient, as they would for a mother or father.

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