Moral injury occurs when clinicians are repeatedly expected, in the course of providing care, to make choices that transgress their long standing, deeply held commitment to healing. It reframes the challenge of distress from “burnout”, which suggests a lack of resilience on the part of clinicians, to one that more accurately locates the source of distress in a conflict ridden healthcare system.
Moral Injury of Healthcare, LLC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded by two physicians driven to make medicine better. It was created in response to the powerful reaction of the entire clinician community to our first article published by STATNews in 2018. That original article has been downloaded nearly 300,000 times; we have spoken with hundreds of clinicians, and received scores of calls and emails. What we have heard clearly from those clinicians is, “This is the language that reflects my experience.” Given conversations on social media, in the lay press, and increasingly in academic journals, the thought experiment we published in 2018 has changed the language of clinician distress.
It is time for us all—because we are all patients at some point—to ask if this is the healthcare we want. If it is not, it is time to renew our commitment to patients as the primary priority, and to the patient-clinician relationship as the keystone of care. It is time to reestablish the societal contract and human commitment between institutions, their employees, and the patients they all serve.
It is time to reimagine better medicine.