Recent studies suggest obnoxious behavior by doctors contributes to hospital errors
Two recent studies, including one by the Institute for Safe Medication practices, conclude that a significant factor in hospital errors is abusive behavior by physicians. The studies suggest that non-physicians are often intimidated by surgeons or other specialists who treat their co-workers with contempt. The authors conclude that these non-physicians often do not feel "empowered" to alert an obnoxious specialist of an impending error.
In response to this kind of incident, the toothless Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals requires hospitals to adopt a written code of conduct, however, many doctors believe these "codes" are frequently mis-used by hospital administrators to silence critics. We were privy to one example of that precise mis-use of discipline, locally, when a doctor complaining about poor surgical practices was disciplined and referred to anger management. Dr. William Norcross, director of a program at Cal-San Diego, estimated that 3-4 percent of physicians are arrogant and disruptive, and that physician training contributes to this problem. Norcross said the problem is most commonly seen among neurosurgeons, cardiologists and orthopedic surgeons.