Harvard Health July 12, 2019
Alvin Powell Harvard Staff Writer

Work highlights economic cost in lost time, turnover

Burnout among doctors is costing the U.S. health-care system an estimated $4.6 billion a year in billings because of reduced hours, physician turnover, and expenses associated with finding and hiring replacements, according to a first-time analysis of the overall economic impact of the problem.

That figure, calculated by an international team of researchers led by Harvard Business School visiting scholar Joel Goh, is likely an underestimate, researchers said, because it doesn’t include the costs of burnout’s potentially significant downstream effects, such as increased medical errors, patient dissatisfaction, increased malpractice lawsuits, and the impact on other staff who must pick up the slack.

“What’s interesting is the magnitude of the effect, which is substantial,”...