Doctors behaving badly?

It may just be one or two out of an entire staff, but physicians who are yellers, screamers, and surgical instrument-throwers can be disruptive to patients and colleagues alike, according to a recent survey by the American College of Physician Executives.

When they do berate other healthcare workers or get snitty with patients, they rarely are punished, and in the rare case that they do get their wrists slapped, the slap is much gentler for physicians than other types of workers, the survey found.

    "We have a horrible track record in our own profession of even recognizing physicians with difficult personalities, much less dealing effectively with them," wrote one of more than 300 physician executives who submitted comments with their completed surveys&

    "This has been a chronic problem that is acutely getting much worse," wrote another survey respondent. "The stress of our jobs (I am a surgeon) is increasing due to the decrease in reimbursement for professional activities, increasing regulatory requirements and severe financial constraints placed upon the hospitals."

The answer, of course, may lie in teaching organizational leaders on how to identify and deal with attitudinally impaired physicians, which is something survey co-authors Timothy Keogh, PhD, of Tulane University and William Martin, MPH, PsyD, of DePaul University do in their ACPE-sponsored courses.

If your organization has a few of these types on staff, it might be worth your while to offer some education on how to coach physicians on appropriate behavior, mediate disputes between doctors, nurses, and other staff, refer problem physicians to counseling, and take firm disciplinary measures against the offenders.

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