A poor bedside manner can lead to more than just hurt feelings

A new book reveals how some doctors treat nurses and staff with disrespect and derision, putting patients at risk.

Certainly, doctors are intelligent. Doctors are hardworking. But doctors are not perfect, and everyone makes mistakes - it is part of being human. When doctors refuse to acknowledge their own humanity, or the humanity of the other professionals that help them in their tasks, then mistakes are more likely to occur.

According to a new book on the professional lives of nurses, this is a large problem in the medical industry. A survey conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices found that in 2012, over 75 percent of nurses had physician act condescendingly towards them or gave demeaning comments or insults to them. Doctors had "shamed, humiliated, or spread malicious rumors" about half of the surveyed nurses. Shockingly, 26 percent of surveyed nurses reported having objects thrown at them by doctors within the previous year.

That sort of behavior is not tolerated in most professions. Why then is it allowed at hospitals? It is not just a question of being nice to colleagues. When nurses and staff fear to speak up about potential issues or mistakes, patient safety suffers. According to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, 40 percent of clinicians have remained silent rather than confront mistakes by a "known intimidator."

Unfortunately, some hospitals have a culture that restricts the ability of other qualified professionals to point out alternatives or potential mistakes to doctors for fear of reprisals. Some hospitals allowed doctors who make mistakes to continue to practice but fired nurses who reported about doctors who made mistakes.

Stressful environments can lead to disruptive behavior

Unsurprisingly, disruptive behavior by physicians is most prominent in situations where stress is frequent and prolonged. That is why emergency rooms, surgical units, and intensive care units have the most trouble with physicians behaving poorly towards nurses. These situations also have the most significant consequences when mistakes occur.

While it is understandably difficult to deal with life-and-death situations on a daily basis, it is unacceptable to put patients at risk by creating an environment of fear and intimidation.

A medical malpractice lawsuit can help

If a patient has to put up with a slightly rude doctor to get the healthcare he or she needs, that is one thing. But when doctors treat colleagues disrespectfully, it can put patient health at risk.

At DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Ltd., our attorneys understand that doctors must put patient safety first, even in a stressful situation, and that an overall culture of fear and intimidation harms patients. If you have experienced medical negligence in an ER, during surgery, or other medical procedure, contact our office to discuss your legal options, including obtaining compensation for future medical procedures and lost wages.

Keywords: Medical malpractice, surgical errors, medical negligence, emergency room errors.