News: 41% of physicians observed colleagues behaving inappropriately, report says

CDI Strategies - Volume 16, Issue 34

In a survey of more than 1,500 doctors, Medscape’s 2022 “Physicians Behaving Badly: Stress and Hardship Trigger Misconduct” report shows 41% of physicians have seen other clinicians behave inappropriately in the workplace. This is up from 35% as reported by Medscape in 2021. The survey asked respondents to identify misbehaviors observed in the last five years as well as which ones they saw most recently, Becker’s Hospital Review reported. Of those who reported positively, another 30% responded they saw such behavior on social media, and 26% simply outside the workplace.

Of the misbehaviors seen in the last five years, 86% of physicians saw colleagues bullying or harassing other clinicians, while 30% said they saw it more recently. Forty-five percent of physicians saw colleagues bullying or harassing patients. Eighty-two percent saw colleagues disparaging patients unbeknownst to the patients, and 55% heard colleagues using racist language. A surprising 44% said they saw colleagues becoming physically aggressive with patients or other clinicians and staff.

"People forget that COVID has made the physician workplace incredibly stressful. Physicians are struggling with their mental health,” Drew Ramsey, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, responded to the findings. He added, “I have increased concern for my colleagues" over its implications, even if the uptick from 2021 is not substantial.

When asked how many instances of inappropriate behavior a physician had seen, the average number witnessed in the last five years was seven. The survey also asked physicians about their own behavior. About 15% of respondents answered positively that they either mistakenly or knowingly behaved poorly.

Editor’s note: To read Becker’s Hospital Review’s coverage of this story, click here. To read the full Medscape report, click here.

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