Doctors complain about working too long hours

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Doctors complain about working too long in Germany's clinics

In some cases, doctors in clinics have to work up to 55 hours a week because around 12,000 jobs in German hospitals are not filled. In view of these figures, the Marburger Bund warns of errors in diagnosis and treatment. 41 percent of doctors said they were dissatisfied or even very dissatisfied.

12 thousand medical positions vacant Again and again, doctors' wages in clinics have risen sharply in recent years. Nevertheless, the field of work in hospitals seems to be unattractive for medical professionals. According to the medical association "Marburger Bund", around 12,000 jobs in Germany's clinics are not filled by doctors. Given the shortage of doctors, medical representatives warn of misdiagnoses and treatment errors. Due to the lack of doctors, the clinic doctors have to take over large parts of task areas. This results in massive overtime, sometimes doctors complain about a maximum weekly working time of 55 hours.

Largest medical survey to date The figures are based on a survey of members of the Marburger Bund. The Chairman of the Medical Association made it clear that twice as many positions are vacant than is officially confirmed. Due to the excessive working hours, many clinicians are likely to be unconcentrated and the risk of treatment errors can no longer be excluded. "If fewer people take care of you than is actually intended, that is a problem," warned the chairman of the federal government, Dr. Rudolf Henke. To protect the patients, more clinicians must be hired, according to Henke.

Nationwide, the association had interviewed around 12 thousand clinicians. With this high number of survey participants, it is the largest medical survey of its kind to date. When evaluating the member survey, it was found that on average around 1.5 workplaces are vacant in each clinic department. The approximately 8,500 departments lack 12,000 doctors. According to the German Hospital Institute, however, only around 6,000 doctors are missing. Henke emphasized that the lack of doctors in Germany's clinics has so far been "numerically underestimated".

120 million overtime hours Due to the understaffing, Germany's hospital doctors have to work massively overtime. Around 140,000 clinicians are employed in Germany. Many have to work around 55 hours a week for a full-time position. The Marburger Bund calculated an overtime number of 120 million from the survey values. “The hospital doctors are still working at the limit. The workload is sometimes unbearably high, ”says Henke. Weekly working hours of 60 hours and more have decreased by five percent compared to 2007, but overall 76 percent of full-time employees still work 50 hours and more per week. Therefore, 41 percent of the respondents rated their working conditions as bad or very bad.

Stress and overload lead to diagnostic errors. The German Medical Association in Berlin recently presented the current statistics on treatment errors. It was noticed that false diagnoses and treatment errors always occur because doctors are under stress and constant stress. Many doctors work 24 hours a day in their everyday work because they have to compensate for the lack of doctors. An expert committee for medical treatment errors in Düsseldorf came to the conclusion that the medical professionals in clinics have little capacity to conduct first medical history interviews in a reasonable time. There would be hardly any time for sufficient patient discussions. The Commission sees the main reason for wrong misdiagnosis.

High bureaucratic effort The Marburger Bund also criticized that hospital doctors are also exposed to enormous bureaucracy. Physicians have to spend around two hours a day working on reports. This time is then missing again for the treatment of patients. In order to remedy the shortage of skilled workers in Germany's clinics, the Marburg Federation is demanding more funding for clinics. "Without the effect of our doctor-specific collective agreements, the pressure to migrate would be even greater," explained Henke. The negotiated tariff increases therefore make an important contribution to security of supply in the clinics. Now the politicians have to discuss how to effectively address the shortage of doctors, added the medical representative.

Clinic landscape needs to be modernized The umbrella organization of statutory health insurers (GKV) opposes this and drew attention to the fact that the clinics have never been allocated as much financial resources as is the case now. In 2011, the hospitals received allocations of over 60 billion euros. The clinics themselves would have to implement modernization measures, according to the GKV association. (sb)

Also read:
Treatment errors: Doctors are often overworked
Storage of medical treatment errors
Every tenth hospital treatment is harmful

Image: Michael Bührke /

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