In recent years there has been a major push by medical associations, accrediting agencies and health care organizations towards diminishing physicians’ historically tolerated tendencies to misbehave, to treat others poorly, to intimidate, etc. None of us who works in health care needs an introduction to this topic. There are still plenty of remnants of physician disruptive behavior evident in our organizations.
Dr. Norman Reynolds’ article on the topic in the Journal of Medical Regulation is a good starting point for the interested and offers a broad overview:
“… two types of dysfunctional physician behavior can be identified. One type is abusive behavior, which can be verbal (insults; condescension; or unwarranted attacks on the honesty, integrity, or competence of another) or physical (contact that is embarrassing, threatening, intimidating, or injurious and invades another’s physical or psychological space). The other type is disruptive behavior, which alters clinical care in a way that is either not beneficial or actually harmful to the patient. Mean, abusive, and disruptive (MAD) behavior among medical professionals interferes with the cooperation, teamwork, and communication necessary to fulfill the obligation of physicians to put the patient’s interests foremost.”
These behaviors are “… frequently part of a personality disorder that reflects a person’s innate character and is not merely an exaggerated response to immediate environmental conditions.” (italics added)
“… (T)he issue should be addressed according to the policies and procedures of the hospital system involved—often by making a report to the administration regarding the behavior and asking for an investigation.”
An excerpt statement from the AMA policy on Physicians and Disruptive Behavior:
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