Disruptive or rude behavior by doctors toward other healthcare staff is a continuing problem, but new research shows it also actively hurts the medical team's performance, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.
Researchers, led by Arieh Riskin, M.D., of Tel Aviv University, created a training simulation and assigned 24 neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) teams at random to one of two groups. One group was subjected to rude comments that had nothing to do with the team's performance and the second group only heard neutral comments. The study found that team members exposed to the snide comments had lower diagnostic and procedural performance scores than those who didn't hear the remarks.
"Incivility is rampant in our society and almost all people get exposed to it sometime or the other, and medical teams aren't well aware of how risky it is to our performance," Riskin told Reuters Health. But it's important that they become aware of the damaging effects of rudeness on performance, he said.
And though abusive behavior is part of the culture of medicine, coauthor Peter Bamberger told the news outlet that the study shows that this element of physician culture is harmful to patient care.
This isn't the only research that shows a negative relationship between outcomes and rudeness. A 2014 column argued disrespectful doctors contribute to a "bullying culture" that undermines employee confidence and discourages clinicians from seeking solutions. Others, however, have argued zero-tolerance policies for such behavior can create the impression that social skills are more valuable to care than performance.