Cardiac care boss urges support for stressed-out hospital doctors, nurses, staff


TORONTO — The head of a Toronto cardiac centre is urging immediate support for stressed-out doctors, nurses and other health-care staff, describing their risk of burnout as “a public health crisis.”

Dr. Barry Rubin, chair and medical director of the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network, says surveys conducted at a cardiovascular centre before the pandemic found 78 per cent of nurses, 65 per cent of physicians and 73 per cent of other health staff described feeling burnt out.

The surveys were conducted between late November 2018 and February 2019 and do not take into account the impact COVID-19 might have had on staff since then.

But Dr. Susan Abbey, UHN’s psychiatrist-in-chief, says there’s no doubt the pandemic has exacerbated feelings of fatigue, stress and depression for many health-care workers.

Responses came from more than 400 doctors, nurses and allied staff including physical, respiratory and occupational therapists, social workers, and speech-language pathologists.

The findings were published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Open.

Burnout can involve professional dissatisfaction, job turnover, decreased quality of life, and thoughts of suicide.

It also affects care, Rubin said.

“It is associated with an increased incidence of medical errors, serious safety events, readmission to hospital, worse patient outcomes and in some situations even increased patient mortality,” Rubin said Tuesday in a release.

“Clinician burnout is a public health crisis that we must address now.”