Monday, September 21, 2015
Disruptive Behavior Can Change Outcomes
“Disruptive behavior” in healthcare is a fairly new term to explain medical professionals who may otherwise be called rude, arrogant and not easy to get along with. An article in USAToday describes disruptive doctors as a patient safety risk. For many reasons they are a patient safety risk including that others won’t stand up to someone who is intimidating and probably bringing in money for the hospital or practice.
Arrogance, bullying and disruptive behavior is not only in the operating room. It can be seen in meetings and in the board room.
A few years ago, I was at a meeting with a number of high level medical professionals. All who seemed to get a long and respect one another. When one physician told a story of her caring for a patient and how the outcome affected her and can be important for others to learn from, another well respected physician, who didn’t agree that that experience should be counted as a “measurement” began to raise his voice and become argumentative and explain that she was wrong. This physician was louder and much more aggressive to get his point across. His comfort with his own behavior made me realize that this is not new. I intervened and shared my displeasure. When it was all over, the physician chairing the committee announced to the group of about 30 people, including the newcomers that it is wonderful that we can all share our thoughts and ideas in a conversation and still get along and be respectful.
I followed up in a letter to the leadership of this group, some who are deeply involved in “disruptive behavior” that this behavior was not respectful nor a conversation. The physician who was telling her story was “attacked” (she admitted that to me). Her colleague was rude, aggressive and being “disruptive”. My letter was taken seriously and acted upon.
It is important that we, as patients are not afraid to speak up. We MUST acknowledge that there are improvements being worked on in patient safety and improving the patient experience but it may never leave the c-suite. If the information doesn’t get to the bedside, it is up to us, the patients and advocates working in patient safety to make sure patients and families feel supported when speaking up.
If you feel disrespected by a sales person, auto mechanic or customer service representative, you have a choice to not return and give them your business. The same holds true for medical professionals. We can't live in a world thinking that we must tolerate behavior that makes us uncomfortable. If they treat us, the patient that way, its probably affecting their work and their relationship with their team.