Patients lose when physician arrogance goes unchallenged

Being a doctor remains one of the most prestigious professions in America.
In many cases, the prestige is justified because of the difficulty of
the job and the skill and professionalism which many doctors display.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of doctors who behave in ways that are
unprofessional and even childish. A recent article in Slate Magazine discussed
a problem that leads to a terrible work environment for nurses and puts
patient safety at risk. While it often goes unreported, there is seemingly
an epidemic of doctors who berate nurses and other staff members and refuse
to listen to any comments or questions they see as a challenge to their
authority.

The statistics are depressing. In a survey of nurses nationally, a significant
number admitted that they have been berated and publicly humiliated for
honest mistakes, had objects thrown at them by doctors and have worked
with doctors who were reluctant or unwilling to answer questions.

In many cases, nurses knew they couldn’t complain to hospital administrators
because doctors would be protected (as important sources of revenue for
the hospital), and because they (the nurses) would likely be fired.

It is not difficult to see how this authoritarian culture could put patients
directly at risk. Even the most knowledgeable medical professionals make
mistakes, which is why all medical professionals in a hospital should
be allowed and encouraged to speak up when they notice a problem. When
nurses aren’t allowed to address and correct the errors of doctors,
it ultimately harms patients and puts the hospital at risk for
medical malpractice lawsuits.

Hopefully, articles like this one will prompt a national conversation about
the way that doctor behavior and misbehavior is negatively affecting patient care.

Source: Slate, “Doctors Throwing Fits,” Alexandra Robbins, April 29, 2015

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