Toxic Docs Require Management Finesse
Healthcare organizations are working to both discipline and reform physicians who display disruptive behavior. The process requires leaders to strike a tricky balance between "managing disruptive behavior" and "caring for and protecting the victims," says one expert.
A physician shoving a colleague in the operating room? A doctor yelling at a nurse, resulting in patient harm?
Two years ago, reports of those incidents were included in an American College of Physician Executives' study on disruptive physician behavior [PDF], which revealed that more than 2 out of 3 doctors witness other physicians disrupting patient care or collegial relationships at least once a month.
"Disruptive physician behavior is the issue that just won't go away," Barry Silbaugh, MD, of the ACPE said in a statement after that report was released. Indeed, it doesn't.
Just this week, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report linking physician verbal abuse of nurses to nurses' low opinion of their work environments. As one of the co-authors noted, "Physicians' verbal abuse of nurses is a long-standing problem and one we need to do much more to address."
Indeed, disruptive behavior can be wide-ranging in its scope, ranging from verbal abuse to physical or sexual harassment, to confrontations or conflicts that cause significant fallout. When physicians are disruptive, disciplinary action may follow.