75pc of doctors and nurses here 'suffering from stress and fatigue'
Three out of four emergency department (ED) staff in an Irish hospital met the criteria for burnout, according to a study.
Staff in Irish hospitals have been working in increasingly chaotic conditions over the past few years, as the number of trolleys in EDs all over the country has continued to soar year on year.
The new research found that 70pc of doctors and 78pc of nurses met the benchmark for the workplace exhaustion condition in the ED at Cork University Hospital, in one of the first studies of its kind in Ireland.
Eight out 10 radiographers, along with 100pc of care assistants, 67pc of porters and 63pc of administrators also met the bar for the stress-related condition.
The average for all staff was 75pc in the southern hospital.
The study said symptoms of burnout were variable and included "emotional exhaustion, physical exhaustion and disengagement".
The study, published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science, also revealed that burnout rates were significantly associated with a history of depression.
The research found that the nurses in the Cork study had a "dramatically higher" burnout rate, nearly three times the international rate of 26pc, while the rate for physicians was similar to the international rate of 65pc.
The paper, headed up by Peter Chernoff, said the findings built on research across the globe which show the prevalence of burnout is high in "high-stress environments like emergency departments".
The authors said: "Obstacles such as rising healthcare costs and increasingly excessive demands on the frontline workforce contribute to the environment of burnout in all hospital staff."
Some 97 ED staff in Cork University Hospital were gauged for the workplace stress condition using the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory, which is a list of questions designed to diagnose burnout.
"An accessible reliable and valid measure of burnout may help individuals in the emergency department identify emotional exhaustion and disengagement," the authors wrote.
They discovered that there was a trend of increased burnout in the hospital with the number of years worked in the department, while males were more likely to have burnout than their female counterparts - although these trends were not found to be significant.
The study said that burnout, described as a "state of emotional depletion developed in the workplace", was found to be common in the hospital.
Researchers added that the effects of burnout can have far-reaching implications.
The authors noted that other studies found that burnout among doctors had been found to increase a range of mental and physical health disorders, for example anxiety, fatigue and hypertension, and even result in suicide.