Why disruptive docs may not be so bad after all

Hospitals have long struggled with how to handle disruptive behavior among doctors, sometimes turning a blind eye, other times disciplining or firing them. Getting rid of disruptive docs has become a popular approach as the industry rewards organizations for high patient satisfaction scores.

The biggest problem with disruptive workplace behavior is the negative impact it can have on the patient, FierceHealthcare reported earlier this year. In many instances, the bad behavior distracts the healthcare team, which can lead to medical mistakes.

But an article by Becker's Hospital Review calls into question the "zero tolerance" movement and why disruptive docs may not be so bad after all. While some surgeons may be cold and abrasive, they may also be better doctors than their kinder, gentler counterparts, according to the article. Yet the doctors with the better bedside manners are rewarded because they have higher patient satisfaction scores even though they have poor patient outcomes compared to their meaner counterparts.

The danger, says Wen Shen, M.D., an endocrine surgeon at the University of California-San Francisco, is when hospitals seek to only hire surgeons with great technical and emotional skills. The industry can't have it both ways, he says.

"In trying to shape our trainees to be all things to everyone ... we run the risk of creating a workforce caught somewhere in the middle, not doing anything well," Shen says.

So how does the industry balance the need for happy patients and skilled clinicians? One way is to recognize that satisfaction--how positive a patient feels about an encounter--is just one part of the patient experience, writes Jason A. Wolf, president of The Beryl Institute, in a blog post for Hospital Impact.

"Satisfaction is in the moment, but experience is the lasting story," he writes. "It is defined in all that is perceived, understood and remembered. And patient experience encompasses much more than creating happy patients. It is about ensuring the best in quality, safety and service outcomes."

Consumers expect high clinical quality, safety and positive outcomes now. Therefore, it's up to organizations to set and reinforce clear expectations for behavior, responsiveness and communication and help staff understand why it is important, Wolf says.

To learn more:
- read the Becker's article
- here's the Hospital Impact post

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