Doctors Acting Like Mean Kids in a Sandbox? Oh, It Happens Everyday


It was exactly two years ago that  QuantiaMD conducted a national survey, finding 66% of U.S. doctors witness other physicians disrupting patient care, or damaging their professional relationships, while at work. And 10% reported that they see bratty kid behavior everyday.

The survey involved more than 800 physicians in leadership positions.

Dr Barry Silbaugh - a "healthcare hero" who gets it

Dr Barry Silbaugh – a “healthcare hero” who gets it

Doctor Barry Silbaugh of the American  College of Physician Executives, said this:

“Our profession is plagued by doctors acting in a way that is  disrespectful, unprofessional and toxic to the workplace.”

Doctor Silbaugh hopes the survey will shine a  light on “the shadowy, dark corners of our profession” where doctors act in  arrogant, demeaning and even physically violent ways. Silbaugh likened it to  pilots “fighting in the cockpit.”

A 14-page white paper put out by the American College of Physician Executives noted:

  • A  doctor who was being monitored because of a long history of rudeness again  yelled at a nurse, resulting in “a significant medication error and harm to a  child.”
  • A  prominent surgeon’s habit of degrading comments aimed at  nurses and support staff eventually  resulted in “shoving and pushing…in the OR.”
  • A male  doctor created “an intolerable work environment for a female physician” through  “condescending, bullying” and refusing to acknowledge her supervisory  role.

75%  of the respondents said they’re worried about disruptive behavior by their fellow MDs. Nearly every doctor who responded stated the shenanigans negatively affected patient care.

25% of doctor-respondents admitted they themselves had been guilty of disruptive behavior at one time or another. The most common reasons, they said, were heavy workload and bad habits they learned in medical school.

50% of the doctors surveyed say they’ve witnessed other physicians yelling, insulting, refusing to cooperate with medical staff, and refusing to  follow established rules.

Also common – and very disturbing – are doctors throwing things; retaliating; working drunk or under the influence of drugs and assaulting co-workers.

For more detail on cases of doctors misbehaving, see this Google map of cases brought before medical boards across the country. Investigative reporter William Heisel spent the better part of a year sifting through records for a series he called “Doctors Behaving Badly” on the Reporting on Health website.


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