Behavior problems between doctors and nurses were reported by more than 97% of the nurses and doctors who participated in an American College of Physician Executives' survey, who said the most common complaints were degrading comments, yelling, cursing, inappropriate joking and refusing to work with one another.
Disruptive behavior commonplace, survey finds
The survey results paint a picture of “treachery and backstabbing” as doctors and nurses try to undermine each other, often right in front of bewildered patients, according to the ACPE. The organization e-mailed the survey to some 13,000 nurse and physician executives, with roughly a 67% to 33% split between the two factions, and 1,428 nurses (67.2% of respondents) and 696 doctors (32.8%) responded between July 9 and Aug. 10, 2009.
In addition to those mentioned above, other complaints included refusing to speak to each other, spreading malicious rumors, trying to get someone unjustly disciplined or fired, throwing objects and sexual harassment. Actual physical assaults, however, were reported by only 2.8% of the respondents.
When asked who most often exhibits behavior problems, 47.9% said it was an even mix; 45.4% said doctors; and 6.8% said nurses. Also, 61.2% reported having nurses terminated at their organization for behavior problems, while only 22.2% said the same of doctors.
Behavior problems arise several times a year, said 30.9% of the respondents, with 30% saying it happens weekly; 25.6% saying monthly; 9.5%, daily; 2.9%, once a year; and 1.2% saying less than once a year.
The most common complaint involved degrading comments or insults, with 85.5% (1,493) of the respondents reporting that this happened at their organization. Yelling was the next-most common, at 73.3% (1,294). A degrading comment highlighted in the survey was a physician telling a nurse: “You don't look dumber than my dog. Why can't you fetch what I need?”
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your comments to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.