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Bullying by doctors can lead to malpractice

Bullying by doctors can lead to malpractice

Illinois medical patients may want to observe the office camaraderie the next time they visit the doctor as conflicts between medical staff may have dire consequences. In an exemplary case, a perfusionist who claimed he was traumatized by a cardiac surgeon’s aggressive behavior won a $325,00 settlement in a 2008 Indiana lawsuit. New studies suggest that such disruptive or bullying behavior by doctors and nurses may be more common than patients realize and that such behavior can lead to medical malpractice.One survey of 4,500 health care workers found that nearly 77 percent of respondents reported disruptive behavior by doctors. Another 65 percent said that they had witnessed disruptive conduct on the part of nurses. Over two-thirds of respondents said that the behavior led to medical errors, and one-third said the behavior had contributed to patient deaths.

While not all doctors exhibit such behavior, the ones who do can cause a significant amount of problems. While one study found that only three to five percent of physicians bully or harass coworkers, another study found that for most health care organizations, 40 percent of all malpractice claims come from five percent of the organization’s physicians. According to experts, patients can protect themselves by speaking to administrators if they witness disruptive or bullying behavior among the staff.

Medical errors and negligence can lead to devastating and costly injuries for patients. Victims of malpractice can suffer chronic medical problems, disability and even death. Victims may be entitled to financial compensation to cover things like medical care, rehabilitation, time off work and pain and suffering. In fatal cases of malpractice, the victim’s family may be able to pursue compensation for their pain and suffering and to replace their lost loved one’s income.

Victims and victims’ families may benefit from speaking with an attorney. An experienced malpractice attorney may file claims, present supporting evidence and question expert witnesses. The attorney might also negotiate a settlement to maximize financial compensation.

Source: USA Today, “When doctors are bullies, patients may suffer,” Kim Painter, April 20, 2013

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