Over the past few weeks, a sports story has grabbed national attention because of its implication for workplace bullying issues.  This case involves the Miami Dolphins of the National Football League, and the main players involved are Richie Incognito (the alleged bully) and Jonathan Martin (the alleged victim).  Click here for USA Today coverage.

 

As this story has developed, there has been discussion as to what type of workplace environments may be more likely to lead to workplace bullying.  It turns out that health care is one of the industries where workplace bullying can occur.  A 2008 study in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety shows that “disruptive behaviors lead to potentially preventable adverse events, errors, compromises in safety and quality, and patient mortality”.

 

Doctors, nurses, even hospital administrators may be involved with this type of negative behavior, yet may not realize what is occurring or the effect their actions have on co-workers and patients.  Read USA Today’s April story here.

 

It is not surprising that while the percentage of doctors who are disruptive is small (studies list the figure at approximately 5%), these physicians make up approximately 33% of all patient complaints and 40% of medical malpractice cases.  See Annals of Internal Medicine article here.

 

It is important that physicians remember that effective communication, respect for colleagues and co-workers and early recognition of disruptive behaviors can go a long way to prevent workplace bullying in our offices and hospitals.  I look forward to your thoughts on this issue.

 

Regards,

 

Stuart J. Glassman, MD

 

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