4 ways to handle disruptive docs

As reports of disruptive behavior by doctors increase, attention is turning to how to disrupt the disruption, according to an article in USA Today.

Disruptive behavior includes disparaging patients or other medical professionals, often with rude or crude language, as well as angry outbursts and passive-aggressive belittling. In the most well-known case, a colonoscopy patient won a $500,000 award against an anesthesiologist who made rude comments about him during the procedure.

The article notes that the problem is serious enough that hospitals must have a strategy for countering disruptive behavior in order to maintain or receive accreditation.

Hospitals can implement several strategies to head off disruptive behavior, according to USA Today, including:

  • Gradually escalate intervention. For example, show mutual respect during a casual discussion following a first offense, issue a warning after a second offense, and send a letter outlining the concern and possible interventions following subsequent offenses. If none of that works, the doctor can lose staff privileges.

  • Set up a system under which employees can report disruptive behavior without fear of retaliation.

  • Provide interventions that address the underlying cause of the behavior, such as anger-management classes, counseling, or treatment for medical problems or addictions.

  • Closely monitor clinicians when they work. Consider audiotaping or videotaping surgeries and other procedures in which patients are sedated.

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, 2 percent to 3 percent of the medical staff generate more than 40 percent of disruptive-behavior complaints, according to the article. More than 75 percent of those resolve their problems, but a handful of medical professionals lose their staff privileges each year.

Although many hospitals traditionally looked the other way because doctors are their main revenue-generators, the shift to consumer-drive healthcare and value-based payments means tolerating disruptive behavior is no longer an option. A number of hospitals now are establishing training programs to help doctors be more empathetic and responsive, which also can improve patient satisfaction.

For more:
- here's the USA Today article