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Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive — and a Doctor

December 2, 2008


Ther is an interesting article in today's New York Times, "Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive — and a Doctor"  .  According to the article:

Recent studies suggest that such behavior contributes to medical mistakes, preventable complications and even death.

A survey of health care workers at 102 nonprofit hospitals from 2004 to 2007 found that 67 percent of respondents said they thought there was a link between disruptive behavior and medical mistakes, and 18 percent said they knew of a mistake that occurred because of an obnoxious doctor. (The author was Dr. Alan Rosenstein, medical director for the West Coast region of VHA Inc., an alliance of nonprofit hospitals.)

Another survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit organization, found that 40 percent of hospital staff members reported having been so intimidated by a doctor that they did not share their concerns about orders for medication that appeared to be incorrect. As a result, 7 percent said they contributed to a medication error.

There are signs, however, that such abusive behavior is less likely to be tolerated. Physicians and nurses say they have seen less of it in the past 5 or 10 years, though it is still a major problem, and the Joint Commission is requiring hospitals to have a written code of conduct and a process for enforcing it.

Still, every nurse has a story about obnoxious doctors. A few say they have ducked scalpels thrown across the operating room by angry surgeons. More frequently, though, they are belittled, insulted or yelled at — often in front of patients and other staff members — and made to feel like the bottom of the food chain.

I have certainly seen my share of this during my training.  I often wonder who these egomaniac docs think they are..  I am one to live by the motto:  "treat others the way you want to be treated."  Showing compassion to your patients and staff goes a long way in improving medical care and outcomes.  And that, my friends is the ultimate goal of medicine!

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