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Anger may cause preventable doctor errors

| May 3, 2013 | Uncategorized

Many people feel anxious when they seek out medical treatment. Whether it is the fear of a traumatic diagnosis or simply experiencing nerves over a routine examination, Chicago residents and people in other parts of the country may not rank potential doctor errors high on their lists of medically-related fears. That may change, however, in light of recent surveys completed by professional medical groups.

Disruptive doctors, or those doctors whose anger or other emotions affect the people they work with, may make up 3% to 5% of the body of practicing physicians. Surveys on disruptive behavior among medical professionals suggest that patient care is directly impacted by angry medical professionals, with one survey reporting that one-third of health care workers who reported disruptive behavior believed that the negative behavior contributed to patient deaths.

A psychologist who studies the problem of disruptive doctors notes that disruptive behavior is distracting, and although a nurse or other health care provider may not be the individual exhibiting hostility, their encounters with disruptive personnel may emotionally distract them from the care they are providing to patients. Distraction on the part of health care workers may lead to negligence in patient care, mistakes in treatment, and suffering for those in need of medical action.

Patients may choose to be proactive regarding their observations of disruptive doctor behavior and therefore may seek out new health care providers. While an expert suggests informing a former provider of the problems in behavior witnessed by the patient, peer counseling groups do exist to help health care providers manage their disruptive behaviors. The existence of these professional support groups may be of little comfort to patients who have suffered from medical mistakes due to the involvement of disruptive doctors in their medical care.

Source: USA Today, “When doctors are bullies, patient safety may suffer,” Kim Painter, April 20, 2013

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