It’s bad enough that many patients leave hospitals with sutures, a bag of pain pills, and a new diagnosis that often carries a “chronic” prognosis. But according to Harvard professor Lucian Leape, something even more insidious is happening that’s leaving patients with a bad taste in their mouth. He says, “Disrespectful behavior – our ability to tolerate it, and not do anything about it – is the root cause of the dysfunctional culture we have in medicine.”
In many of my blog posts, I’ve been suggesting that the only way we’re going to heal health care is to reclaim medicine’s heart and bring love back to the healing process. So I agree with Leape. Disrespect simply isn’t loving – and it runs rampant in hospital cultures.
Disrespect In Hospitals Runs Rampant
In a pair of papers published in July in the journal Academic Medicine, Leape and his co-authors outlined six categories of disrespect prevalent in hospitals. On one end lies the overtly nasty – the surgeon who throws the bloody scalpel across the OR, the four-letter outbursts, the bullying. More common is the systematic degradation and humiliation of medical students and residents by medical school professors, the contempt dripping from the voice of surgeons as they give orders to nurses, and the way some physicians demoralize and disrespect patients by cutting them off, negating what they say, or simply not listening.
But there are other more insidious behaviors of disrespect that permeate hospital culture: passive-aggression (harshly criticizing colleagues with the intent of psychologically harming them), passive disrespect born of apathy and burnout (“I won’t even bother to return this page from the nurse”), and dismissive treatment of patients (refusing to return their calls or answer their questions). Read More→