Disruptive doctor behavior causes mistakes, intimidates workers

We've told you about the Joint Commission's new rule requiring hospitals to have rules and consequences to prevent disruptive behavior from physicians. And subsequently, the AMA asked for a one year hold on that rule so they could have time to consider how best to prevent disruptive behavior.

How often does it happen? There is anecdotal evidence--stories of nurses and other healthcare workers being yelled at and humiliated after they, say, saved a patient's life by noticing a mistake--but it's hard to tell whether these are unusual situations.

Now, however, we have results from a survey to show how big a problem disruptive behavior really is in hospitals. The number of doctors who appeared to be disruptive seems to be relatively low, perhaps only 3 to 4 percent, but the problems that these doctors can cause belie their low numbers.

Dr. Alan Rosenstein performed a survey of healthcare workers from 102 non-profit hospitals between 2004 and 2007. What he found was that 67 percent of the respondents thought that disruptive behavior contributed to medical mistakes, and 17 percent had actually seen at least one mistake as a result of disruptive behavior.

To learn more about the survey:
- read this New York Times piece

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