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Patient harm can result from faults in doctor-nurse interactions

When an Illinois patient is in surgery or being treated by doctors, there might be a passing concern on their part and their family's part that a mistake might be made. Patients may be unlikely to consider the potential of a doctor's personality or behavior leading to making other staff members like nurses uncomfortable and placing the patients in jeopardy of a medical error. That, however, is something that is drawing greater scrutiny and being reported by medical professionals.

A doctor anonymously revealed the behaviors of other doctors, including lewd comments and activities, when performing intimate surgeries on women. This led to a large number of revelations on the part of other medical professionals reporting similar behaviors. In one case, a man won a significant jury award after an audio tape was found with abusive comments his surgeon made during the procedure. There are numerous ways in which medical professionals can be disrupted from doing their job in the operating room and the aftereffects can be dangerous.

In one case, a surgeon made abusive comments to a male nurse and his special needs child. A surgeon failed to wash his hands prior to a surgical procedure and, when offered gloves by the nurse, deposited them in the garbage. A patient being worked on in an OB-GYN procedure was in pain as she was receiving stitches sans anesthesia. These are just some of the issues that have been reported. Medical experts believe these types of activities can lead to mistakes with medication and other medical mistakes.

Experts say that as many as 5 percent of doctors are disruptive and there is a reluctance on the part of witnesses and targets to speak up for fear of retribution. A survey from 2008 had the numbers at more then three-quarters of those asked who saw various forms of disruptive acts. Two-thirds of the fatal mistakes with a fatal surgical error or other negative outcomes could be linked to communication problems. Medical malpractice is often connected to a physical or mental error on the part of the staff. The last thing a family expects is for verbal sparring to be the cause.

Source: USA Today, "'Disruptive' doctors rattle nurses, increase safety risks," Jayne O'Donnell and Laura Ungar, Sept. 20, 2015

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