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Why physician bullies are a threat to patient safety

Posted by Smiley & Smiley on May 29, 2015 5:50:31 PM

Over the past several years, the media has done an increasingly satisfactory job of reporting on the plague of bullying that seems to be sweeping the nation. For the most part, this discussion understandably centers on the bullying that kids and teens face while at school and while interacting with their peers online. However, bullies come in all shapes and sizes, in all ages, genders and professions.

A piece recently published by Slate indicates that a “doctor-bully epidemic” is jeopardizing patient safety and working environments for the nation’s nurses. Certainly, not every physician is a bully. It is safe to speculate that most physicians are not bullies. However, those that are threaten their patients, the integrity of their profession and the safety of the nurses who serve patients in need.

According to the Slate piece, physician bullies are not “simply” making work more difficult than it needs to be for nurses. Many are physically assaulting nurses, throwing objects at them, berating them, swearing at them and otherwise behaving in absolutely unacceptable ways.

As any patient who has spent significant time in a hospital knows, quality nursing is key to ensuring that patients receive proper attention and care. When nurses feel unsafe, threatened or generally agitated because they are being mistreated by physician bullies, the care of the patients they are serving may understandably suffer.

It is therefore vitally important that hospitals create and cultivate a culture of safety in which nurses feel supported and in which physician bullies are held accountable for their unacceptable behavior. It is not only proper to do so for the sake of nurses, but also for the patients they come into contact with.

Source: Slate, "Doctors Throwing Fits," Alexandra Robbins, April 29, 2015

Topics: Medical Malpractice


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