In the mix: Bad physician behavior doesn’t have to be tolerated

Stressed Out Nurses Weekly, December 29, 2008

Abusive and intimidating physicians do more than make nurses' jobs more stressful. They can also cause medical errors, says The New York Times.

The Times points out that only about 4% of physicians are abusive—normally they are surgeons or specialists in a stressful field such as neurology. But a survey conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit organization, found that 40% of medical staff members said they had not spoken up about a possible medication error they noticed because they were intimidated by a physician.

The good news is that the culture of the medical world is beginning to change. Medical schools and residency programs have started teaching skills such as leadership and communication to students. Additionally, The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO) has created a standard to be put in place January 1, 2009 which would require hospitals to have a written code of conduct outlining acceptable behavior, along with a process in place for enforcing it.

However, the American Medical Association (AMA) has asked that the application of the rule be held for a year. The AMA fears the standard won't be applied fairly and could cause physicians to be punished for speaking out against hospital regulations.

Has a physician's behavior negatively affected you? How did your hospital deal with it?

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