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Physicians Aren't the Only Problem

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, August 13, 2013

"Disruptive physician behavior is the issue that just won't go away," says Barry Silbaugh, MD, of the American College of Physician Executives a statement after that group's own report [PDF] was released recently. That's an understatement.

"One potential explanation is that negative behavior exhibited by one member of a group spills over to other members of the group and hurts the group dynamic," Brewer said. "We also see that in a stressful environment, including one in which there is physician-to-RN abuse, there is more likely to be RN-to-RN abuse, as well."

In June, I wrote about another study by the same research team which found that new nurses who are verbally abused by nursing colleagues report lower job satisfaction, unfavorable perceptions of their work environment, and greater intent to leave their current jobs. In that column, I wrote that "if your organization hasn't taken the time to train its nurse leaders in conflict resolution, now's the time to do it." 

But RWJF study shows that training nurse leaders isn't enough, especially when part of the problem appears to be abusive physicians. 

"Physicians' verbal abuse of nurses is a long-standing problem and one we need to do much more to address," Christine T. Kovner, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor at the College of Nursing at New York University said in a statement.

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2 comments on "Physicians Aren't the Only Problem"


gail (8/16/2013 at 1:38 AM)
Please look into the Healthy Work Place Bill...writen by Law Professor David Yamada Boston Ma

Phyllis Kritek, RN, PhD (8/14/2013 at 5:19 PM)
Thanks for addressing this important issue. I was bemused that before I could read this there was an ad from the American Nurses Association (ANA). The ANA has mounted a vigorous campaign addressing nurse to nurse interpersonal violence and bullying, one of the most vigorous I have seen. I would like to acknowledge the leadership they have shown in addressing this issue and making useful tools available to assist CNOs in tackling the problem in their institutions. Also of note, the Joint Commission has several new standards statements that can be used by institutions to make a case for implementing policies and practices that address disruptive behavior. These tools can help those who want to take action.