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Unprofessional medical behavior compromises patient safety

Medical errors across the nation, including Kentucky, cause many debilitating injuries and deaths yearly. Some hospital mistakes are simply due to conflicts between doctors or surgeons and nurses or other hospital personnel. In one such case, a technical assistant became frightened during heart surgery after the doctor swore and screamed. The assistant believed the man would hit him, and he won a $325,000 settlement after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that he was traumatized by the surgeon.

Disagreements among health care workers can lead to medical safety problems for patients and compromise their health and even their lives. According to a 2009 study by the Joint Commission, the issues can include disruptive behavior, hostility, intimidation, threats and verbal outbursts. However, they can also include passive-aggressive behaviors toward other employees or patients.

One psychologist wrote a book that linked these negative behaviors with patient safety. If a patient is undergoing surgery when one of the care providers becomes distracted due to an emotional conflict with a coworker, a medical mistake could result.

Sometimes the emotional issues become so severe that counseling does not help the professional. Medical personnel must attend formal intervention programs in order to correct their behaviors. In some cases, the disruptive professional will leave the medical facility.

One expert encouraged patients or family members to speak up if they observe that anyone who provides care is acting unprofessionally. People's very lives could depend on it.

When a medical professional reacts in anger or hostility, patient care can be compromised. People in Kentucky who have suffered from poor medical care may find it helpful to speak with medical malpractice attorneys who may explain their rights and options and recommend courses of action.

Source: Tucson Citizen, "When doctors are bullies, patient safety may suffer," Kim Painter, April 20, 2013

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