Medical history: July 2008 Archives
It's an unfortunate and open secret that nurses, most of whom are women, bear the brunt of on-the-job verbal and physical abuse―the latter either threatened or real. The source can be mentally compromised patients, as described in yesterday's NYT article ("Nurses Step Up Efforts to Protect Against Attacks"); but I've also seen senior physicians (typically male) exploit the entrenched hierarchy in medicine by intimidating all sorts of subordinate healthcare staff with their vitriolic tantrums.
Having left clinical medicine several years ago and any OR experience even further behind me, I can only hope that the abuse I witnessed in male-dominated specialities of yore remains a vaguely amusing memory. Okay, I'm talking specifically about the collective behavior of the 100% male Duke Surgery Department of the 1980s under the leadership of David C. Sabiston, Jr, MD, in which quaking, incredulous medical students (without naming names) witnessed an attending surgeon throw a resected organ at a flabbergasted scrub nurse or fling instruments with such force that they become fragmented, ricocheting missles.
Let's hope that behavior no longer remains a model of abuse for physicians in training. Okay?
Update: On point and on cue, the Joint Commission released an alert today requiring that all accredited hospitals create a code of conduct that defines acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and...establish a formal process for managing unacceptable behavior," beginning January 1, 2009.
HT for update: WSJ Health Blog