Time for doctors to stop rude, bullying behavior

Photo credit: Medioimages/Photodisc

It might be time to call in Miss Manners. There’s just too much rudeness and uncivil behavior among doctors, according to one resident.

“I know firsthand a rude comment can sidetrack my day and sabotage my ability to focus at work--and many studies show I’m not the only one derailed by bad behavior,” writes Allison Bond, M.D., a resident in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, in an opinion piece on STAT.

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She recalled vivid memories from her intern year of a particularly noxious doctor who was always curt and condescending and caused her blood pressure to skyrocket. The bad behavior is made worse by doctors who are overworked and stressed out, she says.

Research shows the bad behavior also effects patients, as one study showed that when doctors and nurses were peppered with rude comments they were less likely to make crucial diagnoses and performed tasks poorly, she says. Since communication between doctors is vital in conveying important information about patients, doctors need to work collaboratively and rude behavior gets in the way, she says.

Physician stress starts in medical school and in the worst of circumstances has led to the suicide of some medical students, writes Nathaniel Morris, M.D., a resident in psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, in The Washington Post.

At the bottom of totem pole, medical students often suffer the worst humiliation from senior clinicians, he writes. “This hierarchy engenders a culture of bullying toward medical trainees. More than 80 percent of medical students report mistreatment from supervisors. I’ve seen classmates shouted at, cursed at and mocked in clinical settings,” he says.

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