Article: Disruptive Physician Behavior

March 7, 2018

A colleaguedisruptive professional, anger management, bully, abusive boss from the University of Maryland/VAMC, Preeti John, MD, and I just published an article in the Journal of Hospital Medicine about disruptive physician behavior.

Check it out:

Disruptive Physician Behavior: The Importance of Recognition and Intervention and Its Impact on Patient Safety

And please read more about my work with disruptive physicians, healthcare workers and other professionals.

Taming Disruptive Behavior

June 26, 2013

Marty Martin, a former Hopkins guy (I think we only briefly overlapped our tenures there), wrote a nice little piece entitled, Taming Disruptive Behavior for the AGProfessional website.  As you can see the concepts we talk about regarding disruptive behavior and disruptive professionals applies as much to agricultural professionals as it does to healthcare, legal or other “white collar” professionals.

Aggressive behavior and job loss

May 21, 2013

The ApA put out a brief about a study published in Comprehensive Psychiatry which noted correlations between aggressive behavior and being fired from jobs.  The brief nicely noted that people who self-describe as frequently engaging in aggressive behaviors (disruptive behaviors) are fired more often than their non-aggressive peers.  However I didn’t like that the next paragraph mentioned intermittent explosive disorder, as this is a relatively rare disorder and in all my years of working with disruptive professionals (and workplace violence risk assessment), I have seen only a handful of cases of intermittent explosive disorder.

Grown up childhood bullies

May 21, 2013

It has long been understood that bullies typically have been bullied themselves.  A few months ago I came across an interesting write up about the correlation between bullying behavior (and victimization from such behavior) and psychiatric illness.  In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry “researchers have found that elevated risk of psychiatric trouble extends into adulthood, sometimes even a decade after the intimidation has ended.”  This is likely directly relevant for many disruptive professionals.

Countering Workplace Violence

September 5, 2012

I was recently sent an article entitled, “Countering Workplace Violence” that I found to be very well-written and extremely well-grounded.  The piece was written in response to the recent shooting in Manhattan, but what I liked most about it was that, unlike other articles, the author avoid the hype and hysteria associated with topics like workplace violence.  In fact the author actively countered some very common myths about the incidence of workplace violence and the efficacy of actuarial profiling.

What’s a school (or company) to do???

August 9, 2012

We have been flooded with news stories about the tragic shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater and have recently been hearing news about how the alleged shooter was seen by mental health professionals at his school prior to his leaving his graduate training.  I just heard a story on NPR about Threat Assessment Teams that I thought was well-done and wanted to share it here.

When I was in a leadership role at Hopkins’ employee assistance program, we developed a Risk Assessment Team.  I wrote an article about this process, have given over a dozen talks about it and since starting my private consulting practice have continued this work outside of Hopkins for local universities and companies addressing such issues.

One of the things I liked most about the NPR story was how well they conveyed some key points of risk assessment, such as: 1) we simply cannot accurately predict human behavior, 2) actuarial methods (e.g., “profiling”) do not work (and clearly are not supported in the literature), 3) a multidisciplinary team approach is optimal and 4) any such team needs to continually communicate, meet, train and develop together.  Most companies and even many universities do not have the resources to do this; in such cases it is often useful to bring in a consultant with expertise in this area for guidance in program development and/or individual cases that arise.

Changing definitions

November 23, 2011

On November 9, 2011, the Joint Commission announced that they will be changing the definition of the term “disruptive behavior.”  Specifically, they have noted that disruptive behavior is “behavior or behaviors that undermine a culture of safety.”  They added that term is not viewed favorably by some and that many find it to be ambiguous.  Though I surely agree with this, I do not foresee an large, wide-reaching entity such as the Joint Commission being able to define a very complex range of behaviors in a way that covers all it needs to cover without going too far.  When I give talks about disruptive behavior and workplace violence I often suggest that (unfortunately) the classification of one’s behavior as being disruptive “lies in the eyes of the beholder.”  There’s no way the Joint Commission (or even a hospital, small practice or company) could get away with that.

Recognizing and Confronting Workplace Bullying

November 11, 2011

A few years back I was on an Maryland Psychological Association task force committee that worked in partnership with the American Psychological Association to identify and acknowledge organizations that promote conditions of psychologically healthy workplaces.  The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program has a nice newsletter that runs articles that should be of great interest to companies and work organizations interested in improving the mental health, physical health, performance and productivity of their employees.

In a recent newsletter, there was an article about workplace violence – – an area of great interest to me.  What I liked about this article was that they gave nice, concrete tips on how to handle situations that might occur in your workplace, and they offered various strategies about how the organization could respond to (and hopefully even prevent) such situations.   The article presented ideas that are close in line with what I’ve been recommending to companies for years during my consultations following these events.

Disruptive Students

February 9, 2011

I just read an newspaper article from California State Fullerton that I thought was great.  A group of students, concerned about disruptive and violent behavior among their peers, formed what is essentially a risk assessment team designed to address disruptive behavior of fellow students.  Though it may not be unique, this is the first time I have heard about a college campus dealing with students’ disruptive behavior in this manner.   This is very similar to the workplace violence risk assessment model I frequently present about.  Just last week I presented to the Chesapeake Chapter of EAPA about this and about a half year ago I presented to the Chesapeake Chapter of SHRM.

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