Physicians face mistreatment by patients, visitors and seniors

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Mistreatment of physicians is a serious problem that can have a negative impact on the well-being of physicians and the quality of care they are able to provide. Hospitals should create and enforce policies that prohibit mistreatment, and physicians should receive training on how to deal with difficult situations.

According to a new study, nearly one in four hospital physicians are mistreated at work by patients, visitors, or other doctors. Female physicians are nearly two times more likely than male physicians to face this abuse.


Mistreatment is defined as any type of rude, disrespectful, or aggressive behaviour directed towards a physician. This can include everything from verbal abuse and threats to physical violence.

Reasons for Mistreatment

There are many reasons why patients, visitors, or other doctors might mistreat a physician. Patient attendants are the ones who are with patients most of the time in the hospital. They may feel like they are not being listened to or that their concerns are not being taken seriously. In some cases, they may be angry or frustrated about their own situation and take it out on the physician for example, if they feel that the physician is not providing adequate care for their loved one.

In some cases, it may be due to a misunderstanding or a miscommunication. In other cases, it may be due to a more serious issue, such as harassment, discrimination, or power dynamics. Dr Elisabeth Poorman, suggests that “the root cause of much of the mistreatment is the systemic inequality that exists in healthcare.”

Impact of Mistreatment

This mistreatment can have a significant impact on the physician’s well-being. It can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. It can also impact the quality of care that the physician is able to provide. When physicians are mistreated, it can create a hostile environment and make it more difficult for them to do their job.

What Can Be Done

“All members of the healthcare team share the responsibility to mitigate mistreatment” (Dr. Mickey Trockel), including physicians, nurses, administrators, and support staff.

There are a number of things that can be done to prevent or reduce the mistreatment of physicians. For example, hospitals can create and enforce policies that prohibit mistreatment. Additionally, physicians can receive training on how to deal with difficult situations.

Create and enforce policies that prohibit mistreatment

1. Have a zero-tolerance policy for mistreatment of physicians.

2. Educate all staff, including physicians, about the policy.

3. Enforce the policy consistently.

4. Offer support to physicians who have been mistreated.

5. Investigate incidents of mistreatment.

6. Take action against individuals who engage in mistreatment.

7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the policy periodically.

Train physicians on how to deal with difficult situations

1. Identify potential difficult situations.

2. role-play possible responses to difficult situations.

3. provide feedback on responses.

4. offer support and resources for dealing with difficult situations.



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