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Preventing a Parallel Pandemic A National Strategy to Protect Clinicians’ Well-Being

Victor J. Dzau et al., Preventing a Parallel Pandemic — A National Strategy to Protect Clinicians’ Well-Being, New England J. Med. (May 13, 2020), DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2011027. “The Covid-19 pandemic, which had killed more than 60,000 Americans by May 1, has been compared with Pearl Harbor and September 11 — cataclysmic events that left indelible imprints on the U.S. national psyche. Like the volunteers who flooded into Manhattan after the World Trade Center attacks, the health care providers working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic will be remembered by history as heroes. These courageous people are risking their lives, threatened not only by exposure to the virus but also by pervasive and deleterious effects on their mental health. Tragically, we are already seeing reports of clinicians dying by suicide amid the pandemic, including the highly publicized death of a prominent emergency medicine physician in Manhattan, the epicenter of the U.S. Covid-19 outbreak.1 Before the virus struck, the U.S. clinical workforce was already experiencing a crisis of burnout. We are now facing a surge of physical and emotional harm that amounts to a parallel pandemic. Just as the country rallied to care for September 11 first responders who suffered long-term health effects, we must take responsibility for the well-being of clinician first responders to Covid-19 — now and in the long run. We are calling for several immediate actions to lay the groundwork for a clear and accountable national strategy to safeguard the health and well-being of our clinician workforce (see box)…” [thanks to Mary Whisner]

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