Hospitals are cracking down on a problem that has been troublesome for years--abusive and angry behavior by doctors towards nurses, trainees, colleagues and other medical staff, according to Kaiser Health News.
While the problem is not widespread (researchers estimate only about 3 percent to 5 percent of physicians engage in this kind of behavior), it can have a corrosive effect, said Charles Samenow, an assistant professor of psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine, who evaluates doctors with behavioral problems.
For example, a 2011 survey of hospital administrators found that 99 percent of respondents believed such behavior negatively affected patient care, and that 21 percent directly linked it to patient harm, KHN noted.
One of the reasons hospitals are losing their tolerance for this behavior is guidance issued by The Joint Commission, warning hospitals that intimidating and disruptive behaviors can foster medical errors, contribute to poor patient satisfaction and adverse outcomes, increase the cost of care, and force medical personal to seek new positions.
"To assure quality and to promote a culture of safety, health care organizations must address the problem of behaviors that threaten the performance of the health care team," The Join Commission wrote in the guidance.
"Many hospitals and healthcare systems are beginning to address [the problem] just to keep their accreditation," Peter Angood, CEO of the American College of Physician Executives told KHN.
Physician executive and Hospital Impact blogger Jonathan Burroughs, M.D., recounted an episode early in his career that illustrates the kinds of concerns communicated by The Joint Commission. After berating a nurse for not knowing what epinephrine and atropine were, Burroughs, upon reflection, concluded that his medical training had failed him in this situation, according to a Hospital Impact blog post. "Treating people with disrespect and shame will not improve human performance nor will it help patients to have better outcomes," he wrote.
What can be done to help medical professionals deal with disruptive and inappropriate behaviors?
Hospitals should set behavioral expectations for the professional staff, create a behavior event review committee and consider implementing a physician health committee, recommended Dean White, a Texas-based consultant and former chief of the medical staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist HEB Hospital in Dallas.
White also suggested hospitals hold all providers to the same behavioral standards, regardless of their skill, FierceHealthcare previously reported.