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MDLinx2023 Update: Top Causes of Death Among Doctors

Addressing Physician Mortality: Unveiling the Leading Causes and Preventive Measures

In a comprehensive update, new data sheds light on the top causes of death among physicians, emphasizing the need for proactive self-care and organizational support. The report highlights suicide, COVID-19, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) as the leading causes, offering actionable insights for risk mitigation.

HCN Medical Memo
As a physician, it’s crucial to recognize that you’re not invincible. The data clearly indicates that suicide, COVID-19, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are significant threats to your profession. Although the demands of your job are high, neglecting self-care and wellness can have severe consequences. Organizations also play a pivotal role in creating a supportive environment that can help mitigate these risks. By being proactive about your mental and physical health, and advocating for effective workplace measures, you can better protect yourself and your colleagues from these leading causes of mortality.

Key Points:
  • Between 300 and 400 physicians die by suicide each year in the US, as per the American College of Emergency Physicians.
  • Physicians are at a higher risk of PAD, which is linked to job strain.
  • Self-care and wellness behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of suicidal ideation, according to the AMA.
  • A total of 4,511 physicians died due to COVID-19 between March 2020 and December 2021, with 622 more deaths than expected.
  • Workplace-based protective measures have proven effective in reducing COVID-19-related physician mortality.
Additional Points:
  • Suicidal ideation among physicians is associated with medical errors and large workloads.
  • Physicians experiencing suicidal ideation are 9.4% less likely to seek help compared to those with symptoms of depression or burnout.
  • Older physicians experienced a higher rate of excess mortality due to COVID-19 compared to younger, active doctors.
  • Job strain is linked with a 1.41-fold increased average risk of PAD requiring hospitalization.
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“Beyond the deaths directly attributable to the virus, we see the extended impact by quantifying the number of physicians deceased beyond what would have been expected under normal circumstances.”
– Lindsey Carlasare, MBA, Research and Policy Manager for the AMA

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