2010 January 19 Tuesday
Tired Doctors Order More Drugs And Tests

See a happy and well-rested doctor.

Prof. Kushnir surveyed 188 primary physicians in Israel to determine whether doctors changed their professional behavior on good mood days, as well as days when they felt stressed, tired or anxious. Physicians' burnout levels were also assessed. The study asked doctors to rank how their mood affected the extent they talked to patients, prescribed medications, sent them to lab or diagnostic tests and referred patients to a specialist.

Her findings show that a good or bad mood affected all five physician behaviors. On days the doctors felt positive moods, they spoke more to patients, wrote fewer prescriptions, ordered fewer tests and issued fewer referrals. However, when doctors were in a bad mood, they did the opposite. Additionally, if the physicians' burnout level was higher, their moods more strongly impacted their behaviors.

"The finding that on bad mood days physicians tend to talk less, and may needlessly prescribe and refer more than on good mood days, implies that negative moods may be detrimental to quality and costly to healthcare systems," says Prof. Kushnir. Conversely, positive moods that have the opposite effects may help contain costs."

To make this actionable information we need to know when doctors are most likely to be in good or bad moods. Among the considerations:

  • Time of day. Do their moods worsen as the day drags on?
  • Day of week. Happier on Mondays or Fridays? You'd think people would be more tired on Fridays but looking forward to the weekend. How does that balance out?
  • Time of year. Summer seems like the happiest time.
  • Age. Are older doctors in better or worse moods?

When to get the best treatment?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 January 19 09:56 PM  Economics Health

no i don't said at January 20, 2010 8:39 AM:

Interesting. I think this is true. A very good doctor could do a bad job if they feel tired and stressed. A stressed out doctor might not ask the patient all the important questions to come up with a right dagnosis.

Bob Badour said at January 20, 2010 8:42 AM:

no i don't: You have a fine grasp of the obvious.

AMac said at January 20, 2010 10:23 AM:

What about outcomes: the assumption is that patients treated on Good days do as well as (or better than) those treated on Bad days. Plausible, but is this so?

Robert Hume said at January 21, 2010 7:51 AM:

Is it clear that more tests and referrals would be bad for your health. Maybe the doc "wings it" when he feels good?

no i don't said at January 21, 2010 8:48 AM:

Thank you Bob. I was hoping you'd approve... That's also what I thought of Randall's post while i was waiting for a better one to pop up.

For the comments you post i can see you don't even get to the obvious and the reason why you try to appear deep is because you are not even shallow.

You really say nothing when you comment. In fact you never even have a comment.

In this blog i have found more than one narcissit analyst. But you seem like just another bimbo in limbo...

Anyway, keep drooling on your Big Mac while you try to complete at least one full idea.

Bob Badour said at January 21, 2010 9:45 AM:

Regardless whether the outcome is better when the GP is tired or happy, this article makes it clear that mood and fatigue affect doctors' judgment. The moral of the story is: The sooner we automate medicine, the better for us all.

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