Doctor bullying negatively affects patient outcomes

Modern medical care requires a complex and continuous exchange of information among doctors, nurses and other medical providers. When those lines of communication are disrupted, it can lead to serious medical mistakes that put patients' health and safety at risk. Too often, patients are harmed or even killed as a result of breakdowns in communication that stem from bullying and intimidation by top physicians against their subordinates.

Breakdowns in communication

When doctors belittle or humiliate nurses and other health care workers who come to them with questions or concerns, it sends a powerful message that can discourage those individuals and others from speaking up when they witness problems or potential oversights in how patients are being cared for. This failure to work together as a team and communicate openly can lead to a wide array of problems and complications for patients, such as adverse drug interactions, surgical mistakes, improper monitoring and wrong diagnosis.

These types of medical errors can have dire consequences and in many cases are fatal. About 63 percent of cases in which a patient suffers unexpected permanent disability or death can be traced back to communication problems, according to data from the Joint Commission, an independent health care certification and accreditation organization.

Doctors and nurses report high rates of harassment

A 2011 survey by the American College of Physician Executives showed that about three out of four doctors stated that they were concerned about disruptive or abusive behavior by physicians, and nearly all said that bullying is detrimental to patient care.

In a separate survey of nurses, conducted in 2013 by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 74 percent said they had endured insults or demeaning, condescending remarks, while 42 percent said they had been targeted by doctors who shamed, humiliated or spread malicious rumors about them. Even worse, 26 percent of those nurses said they had had objects thrown at them.

Get help dealing with medical errors

When doctors take their aggression out on nurses and other hospital staff, patients can end up paying for it with their health and sometimes even their lives. If you or a loved one has suffered harm in Massachusetts due communication breakdown or other lapse in medical care, be sure to talk things over with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn about the options available for seeking compensation through the legal system. Contact Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates to arrange a personalized consultation.