March 2, 2011
An orthopedic surgeon in WY had a history of disruptive behavior in the OR including throwing instruments and berating staff. When the OR staff protested having to work with him, the hospital took action, investigated the situation and eventually suspended his hospital privileges. The surgeon protested and attempted to sue the hospital for damaging his practice but the State Supreme Court found in favor of the hospital.
The situation in this article highlights the importance of a thorough investigation, and timely but not reactive intervention. Toward the end of the article, the surgeon is quoted as having “a strong work ethic and [being] demanding [when it comes to] compassion, concentration and effort helping others.” I mention this because so often I hear similar comments from the physicians and other professionals I work with; in their zeal to be the best physician they can be they often lose sight of the fact that they are a single member of a multidisciplinary treatment team, and that their disruptive behaviors alienate and intimidate others, thereby preventing them from sharing their professional opinions and even inhibiting them from mentioning potential medical errors. Disruptive behaviors negatively impact patient safety – – this is a fact that is well-documented in the patient-safety literature.