Kansas And Missouri Professional Licensing Attorney Discusses Bullying In The Medical Field

Our children’s schoolyards are not the only place bullying occurs. Bullying is a significant problem in the medical profession, especially among doctors and nurses. Bullying can lead to more significant problems in the workplace and can jeopardize the performance of healthcare professionals. Bullying can cause substantial job dissatisfaction as well as create or exacerbate the victim’s mental health issues by causing anxiety and depression.

It is the patients, however, who stand the most to lose. The sole reason doctors, nurses, and the myriad healthcare professionals have their positions is to treat patients. Healthcare professionals must realize, therefore, that creating a hostile work environment through bullying endangers patients.

Bullying in a hospital or healthcare setting starts at the top with the physician. Not every physician is a bully to their subordinates. On the contrary, most physicians treat their subordinates as part of a team with one goal in mind: to treat their patient to the best of their skill and ability. Bullying is not simply a matter of being bossy or sometimes condescending. In fact, treating the patient might require the physician to take charge and order people around to meet the challenge with which the medical team faces.

Bullying, on the other hand, is persistent and unwarranted condescending, berating, and abhorrent behavior by one person to their perceived subordinates. A physician is not the only person with a position in the healthcare field to have the opportunity to bully others. Nurses can bully other nurses or other positions that are perceived to be less prestigious. A hierarchy must exist to be sure. When life or death of the patient hangs in the balance, there is no place to have thin skin. As long as everyone is acting professionally and within the bounds of reason, problems may be avoided.

Unfortunately, statistics prove that many doctors are difficult to work with, especially nurses. Consider the results of a recent survey. Among the respondents, all of whom were nurses, 87 percent said that they work with physicians who will not answer their questions or return phone calls. That same survey revealed that 74 percent of nurses have dealt with physicians who were condescending and insulting. Additionally, doctors threw things at nurses 26 percent of the time. This is behavior which could be labeled as a criminal assault. Furthermore, 42 percent of physicians spread rumors, humiliated, or shamed nurses. That behavior, which is bordering on violating the criminal law, may be unethical.

Medical facilities tend to avoid confronting the issues of subordinate bullying. Whistleblowing comes at a risk for nurses. Although states have laws protecting whistleblowers from suffering negative treatment for their efforts, a nurse’s reputation could be tarnished. Furthermore, the hospital administration has an incentive not to reprimand the very physicians that give the medical facility its distinguished name. Those scenarios serve to protect physicians while making nurses expendable.

On the other hand, nurses have a duty to speak out against bullying. Failure to do so compromises patient safety. Bullying leads to increased health care costs and errors that ultimately harm patients. Nurses must not become too intimidated to ask questions. Doctors must learn to be receptive to nurses’ questions in the name of providing the level of health care the patient requires. Failure to do so has dire consequences. A recent study showed that 63 percent of all unanticipated deaths and permanent disability caused by malpractice could be directly linked to the failure of communication between doctor and nurse.

For Help With Professional Licensing Issues

Kansas and Missouri professional licensing attorney Danielle Sanger dedicated her practice to representing professional licensees like doctors and nurses who are in danger of losing their license to practice medicine. Call Attorney Sanger today at 785-979-4353 to schedule a consultation.