Bullying by doctors can lead to serious medical errors

The medical field is known for its rigid hierarchies, and those at the top can be notoriously tyrannical toward their subordinates. The pervasive culture of medical bullying does far more than create a hostile work environment; it also endangers patients by discouraging nurses and other medical personnel from speaking up when they see mistakes or other problems with the way patients are being cared for.

Most nurses experience bullying at work

Although patients may not always witness it firsthand, bullying within the health care profession is alarmingly commonplace, especially considering its potentially disastrous consequences. A 2013 survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices revealed the following:

  • Three out of four nurses said they had been targeted by condescending, demeaning or insulting comments.
  • Four out of 10 nurses said they had been shamed, humiliated or subjected to malicious rumor-mongering by the doctors they worked with.
  • One in four nurses said they had objects thrown at them at work.

When doctors bully nurses and other medical providers, it causes breakdowns in communication that can be harmful or even fatal to patients who are caught in the crossfire. Nurses who are intimidated at work are often reluctant to point out doctor's mistakes or oversights for fear of being berated, losing their jobs or even being physically attacked. Furthermore, even when they do speak up, physicians do not always listen.

High-risk environments breed bullying and intimidation

According to the Joint Commission, an independent non-profit that certifies and accredits health care organizations nationwide, nearly two-thirds of all cases in which a patient unexpectedly dies or suffers a permanent disability are the result of breakdowns in communication between medical providers. Doctor bullying can occur anywhere in the medical setting and can result in a wide range of errors and complications, such as:

In a recent story on the issue of health care bullying, Slate reported that the problem is more widespread in some hospital environments than others and tends to occur most often in high-pressure environments like emergency departments, operating rooms and intensive care units.

Advocating for victims of medical mistakes

When patients suffer harm as a result of a medical mistake, the consequences can be painful, costly and life-altering. If you or someone in your family has suffered from a harmful medical error or oversight in Connecticut, you may be able to recover financial compensation through a court of law to help offset your losses. Contact the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Jacobs & Dow, LLC, to learn more about your options.