Doctors and Patients, Lost in Paperwork

This article is on time, paperwork and patient care and manages to get across the horrible Kafkaesque feeling of slowing drowning in a rising tide of bureaucratic requirements.

From Pauline Chen at the New York Times:

…Paperwork, or documentation, takes up as much as a third of a physician’s workday; and for many practicing doctors, these administrative tasks have become increasingly intolerable, a source of deteriorating professional morale. Having become physicians in order to work with patients, doctors instead find themselves facing piles of charts and encounter and billing forms, as well as the innumerable bureaucratic permutations of dozens of health insurance companies.

But despite the paperwork burden, there are few studies on the amount of time current doctors devote to charting, ordering, filling out forms and dictating. That is, except among one subset of doctors — doctors-in-training, or residents.

According to a study published earlier this year, residents now spend up to twice as much time on documentation as their counterparts did two decades earlier. Analyzing the results of a national survey of over 15,000 trainees in internal medicine, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., found that a majority of residents reported spending as many as six hours a day documenting, while only a small fraction of residents spent as much time with patients.

In other words, young people who are learning to doctor spend as much time writing, typing or dictating about their patients as they do seeing them…

more via Doctor and Patient – Doctors and Patients, Lost in Paperwork –


  1. 1 The Medical Contrarian on medical “paperwork” « Medical Skeptic

    […] April 11, 2010 in Unintended consequences, bureaucracyTags: communication, health care teams, paperwork The Medical Contrarian has written an important response to my earlier post  Doctors and Patients, Lost in Paperwork. […]

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