Doctor-nurse civility to benefit patients, cut costs

Physician behavior, particularly in the operating room, can affect patient outcomes and healthcare costs, according to a commentary in the Archives of Surgery. Seventy-five percent of hospital pharmacists and nurses reported they try to avoid difficult physicians, even if they have a question about medication orders. Researchers indict that difficult or disruptive physician behavior comes from stress and anonymity. In addition, such behavior can result in high turnover of nurses, according to a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center press release.

"Often, surgeons get hired on the basis of their knowledge, training and technical accomplishments," says Andrew S. Klein, a surgeon and the director of the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Transplant Center. "But operating rooms are social environments where everyone must work together for the patients' benefit. When a surgeon, who is in the position of power, is rude and belittlies the rest of the staff, it affects everything." Klein added, "The temptation to ignore warning signs that a surgeon will not play well in the sandbox with peers and co-workers is seductive when large clinical practices and NIH funding are at stake." Press release