Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wake Up Your Zombie Workforce To Patient Safety Risks

Fierce Healthcare has;
Ms Karen Cheung's Editor's Corner:
Wake Up Your Zombie Workforce To Patient Safety Risks

Is your hospital a hotspot for the walking dead?
study in published in the Archives of Surgery uncovered more evidence that sleepy surgeons are a threat to patient safety--and the news is making its way through the mainstream media (and reaching your patients).

On average, a surgical resident gets 5.3 hours of sleep a day, according to a study of orthopedic surgical residents at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, with some residents only getting 2.8 hours a night.

What's even more alarming is that during a quarter of their waking hours, surgical residents' fatigue is akin to being legally drunk, meaning that they are functioning at 70% mental effectiveness (correlating with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%).

Although we've heard sobering statistics such as these before, the study did call out the pervasiveness of fatigue and how it affects patient care. Fatigued residents have a 22 percent greater risk of causing a medical error than alert, well-rested doctors, according to the study.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education 
(ACGME) took great steps to limit resident work hours when it finalized duty hour rules in 2011, years after the ACGME adopted the groundbreaking 80-hour limit in 2003 and the landmark Institute of Medicine report in 2008.

The problem is so significant that that the largest accrediting body declared it a sentinel event in December 2011, when The Joint Commission warned hospitals about the potential dangers of extended hours and excessive workloads, not just for residents but for all healthcare workers.

"Imagine an intoxicated person working in a hospital setting, and you'll have a better understanding of the dangers of being fatigued,"  Frederick Southwick, professor at the University of Florida and manager of New Quality and Safety Initiatives for the University of Florida and Shands Health Care System, wrote in yesterday's Hospital Impact blog post.

We wouldn't let a drunk physician into the operating room. Why would we tolerate a sleepy surgeon?
Part of the sleep problem stems from the glutton-for-punishment mentality so persuasive in medical and nursing school for years. But the call to patient safety requires a severe change in culture.

"In this era of ever-increasing medical complexity, the most important realization is that no one can do it all," Southwick said. "Teamwork is vital for efficient care; each professional caregiver possesses unique and equally important expertise that should be shared."

Southwick noted it's not just individual variables such as fatigue that factor into the problem of adverse events. There's emotional stress on providers, as well as the pressure to multitask. Southwick pointed out there also are systemwide problems, such as nursing ratios (or what Southwick referred to as "skeleton crews" at night and on weekends).

The fatigue factor, however, is one area in which the healthcare industry can start to take control.
The Joint Commission in its 
Sentinel Event Alert suggested organizations assess their fatigue-related risks, including limiting off-shift hours and consecutive shift work; examining the hand-off process; inviting staff to offer input in their own work schedules; implementing a fatigue management plan; and educating staff about the effects of fatigue on patient safety.

It's unlikely that the problem of resident fatigue is going to go away altogether, but the immediate threat that fatigue poses on patient safety requires immediate action--hospitals must consider their staffing rations and redesigning shifts now.  - Karen (@FierceHealth)

Thank You Fierce Healthcare and Ms Cheung

"We wouldn't let a drunk physician into the operating room"
No, We wouldn't Want Drunken Surgeons in an Operating Room, ....... BUT:
Study: 15% Of Surgeons Abuse Alcohol
 "Teamwork is vital for efficient care; each professional caregiver possesses unique and equally important expertise that should be shared." 
Hospital Workers Don't Report 86% Of Patient Harm Events  
And it continues because the Control mechanism in situ to put the brakes on it is an openly Protectionist farce.
Medical Boards Lack Resources To Punish Dangerous Docs 
State Med Boards Not Punishing Dangerous Docs 
National Database Riddled With Holes: Records Missing On Disciplined Healthcare Workers

In fact, Medicine has systemically gotten So lax that not only has the Operating Room become a post 19th Hole good old boys club, but the surgical instruments themselves are becoming an ever more septic hazard. 
Dirty Surgical Tools, A Dangerous, Growing Problem
Here's part of that last link, because it's so easy to "Diagnose" All of these 'Behaviors' as 'Incurable Mental Illnesses' requiring a Junk Medical Incarceration and Destruction of the perpetrator's Unalienable Rights, ...... by political philosophers/drug peddlers pretending to be Physicians: who are all an integral part of today's obscenely expensive, dangerous, incompetent, and deadly, Good Old Boys club. 

"But then What can you expect, when Hospital Staff need Hall Monitors to herd them back into the washroom to wash their hands after Using the rest rooms, and between patients? 

SF General Hospital is a Major Trauma Center: 2nd & 3rd degree burns etc. All of the Physicians there are UCSF (State University) Faculty. (Pg 34) They are not students. They are not graduates. They are Faculty. The Best & the Brightest in medicine today.
58% of them needed a Hall Monitor (pg 6) to herd them back to the wash basin after they used the bathroom, or moved between patients. Even With the hand hygiene Hall Monitors, they Still couldn’t housebreak 18% of the slobs.
Not Students. Not Graduates. State University Faculty. The best there is. Just ask the taxpayers.
Here's an idea. How about we hire a whole lot More Psychiatrists and Psychologists to condemn these septic 'Caregivers' as Incurably Mentally Ill, show them the door, and State/Federal paperwork them as a Danger to Others? Their 'Behaviors' are actually Killing people, aren't they?
And CMS under Dr Seuss can authorize Itself (Why not? Congress has done some incredibly stupid things in the past, but it's difficult to imagine even Congress openly authorizing Medicare/Medicaid Reimbursement for Buddhist mindfulness meditative techniques and Hegelian Dialectical bait and switch Political BS which includes propping up Che Guevara as an exemplar of Wisdom and Compassion, as Healthcare) to BUY those new Psychs, excuse us, Self Identified Illuminati, (with your Parents and Grandparents Medicare/Medicaid co-pays) every movie every made so they can sit at home (or at the Esalen Institute) Watching them as Psy-entific Justification for all of the Paperwork they're generating.
Illuminati Psychiatric Bio-Science

And when the Corrective/Protectionist State Agencies/Jokes do correct Healthcare Workers,

California Diversion Programs

US Constitution  Amendment 14
Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
We looked up the delusional crackpots comprising Psychiatry's 'Diagnosing' knowledge base for a reason. And this tiny list barely scratches the surface of the collectivist idiocy infusing the 'Mental Health' field's all out war on the last, best hope for Western Civilization: The US Constitution.

We Will be exposing More of these fruitcakes. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grassley, Kohl, & Blumenthal Push For Off Label Antipsychotic Informed Consent in Nursing Homes

The Boston Globe has;

Senators Push For Informed Consent Before Nursing Homes Use Antipsychotic Drugs

Roughly 185,000 Seniors in Nursing Homes got Antipsychotic Drugs in 2010 contrary to Fed Regulators recommendations. Senators Grassley, Kohl, and Blumenthal want informed consent to become the practice, not just the recommendation.

Good Luck. This industry does now, and always has, as it damn well pleases.

Overriding Mental Health Treatment Refusals: How Much Process Is "Due"?

Does this mean that if Informed Consent for Off Label poisonings actually has another REGULATION attached to it the Symptom Bashers will actually comply with yet Another Big Bad Regulation?

Can anyone seriously believe that this Regulation, IF it gets tacked on and the Bill passes, is going to have a Single One of these Quacks obtaining Informed Consent that includes that silly little thing about State Police Registration owing to the Homicide Factor/Racketeering Violation?

While this effort IS commendable, the thought of Informed Consent with these drugs is a joke, and it's no wonder that the Industry views Constitutional "Keep Your Hands Off. No Ifs, Ands, or Buts," guarantees, Racketeering Statutes, and Federal Civil Rights Statutes as a mere inconvenience, ..... .

Monday, May 21, 2012

Antidepressants Do More Harm Than Good: Study

Frontiers In Evolutionary Psychology has;

Primum Non Nocere: An Evolutionary Analysis Of Whether Antidepressants Do More Harm Than Good

It's a lengthy and detailed study and is available in full at the link.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just How Corrupt Has Science Become?

We've added a blog to our permalinks for you to ask precisely that question. Welcome, Retraction Watch.
1st up, an entry titled:

Astrophysics Retraction Trail Includes Paper That Plagiarized Another Already Retracted For, ..... Plagiarism. 

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could get this kind of Oversight at the FDA and get FDA to start Retracting some of those Brain Damaging Safe and Effective pronouncements and products, ....... which are So safe and Effective they can't even comply with Federal Racketeering Statutes?

But don't you miss a wink of sleep over it  because we have Top, people working on it, ....... Top, People.

And They would know if Anything is Corrupt and in need of retraction, ...... because they're Personal Friends of Al, "The Polar Ice Caps Are Melting So Hurry Up and Tank the Economy for MY Personal Mega-Enrichment", Gore.

Oh No, How could This have happened? More Illegal Human Experimentation? Don't we have Top People in Charge?

EPA Inspector General Asked to Investigate Illegal Human Experimentation (May 14) | Journal editor rejects Milloy request to retract false case report of EPA human experiment (May 8) | EPA denies Milloy charge of conducting unethical human experiments; Facts show otherwise (May 2) 

Top People, Personally appointed by Governor Grey out Davis himself?

California electricity deregulation crisis

Soon after taking office, Davis was able to fast-track the first power plant construction in twelve years in April 1999, although the plant did not come on line before the electricity crisis.
According to the subsequent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's investigation and report, numerous energy trading companies, many based in Texas, such as Enron Corporation, illegally restricted their supply to the point where the spikes in power usage would cause blackouts. Rolling blackouts affecting 97,000 customers hit the San Francisco Bay area on June 14, 2000, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company filed a complaint alleging market manipulation by some energy producers in August 2000.[47] On December 7, 2000, suffering from low supply and idled power plants, the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which manages the California power grid, declared the first statewide Stage 3 power alert, meaning power reserves were below 3 percent. Rolling blackouts were avoided when the state halted two large state and federal water pumps to conserve electricity.[47]

Windmill field outside Palm Springs. Hot temperatures were thought to be pushing California to rolling blackouts, though it was later discovered that market manipulation was the cause.
On January 17, 2001, Davis declared a state of emergency in response to the electricity crisis. Speculators, led by Enron Corporation, were collectively making large profits while the state teetered on the edge for weeks, and finally suffered rolling blackouts on January 17 and 18.[47] Davis stepped in to buy power at highly unfavorable terms on the open market, since the California power companies were technically bankrupt and had no buying power. California agreed to pay $43 billion for power over the next 20 years.[47] Newspaper publishers sued Davis to force him to make public the details of the energy deal.[48]
During the electricity crisis, the Davis administration implemented a power conservation program that included television ads and financial incentives to reduce energy consumption. These efforts, the fear of rolling blackouts, and the increased cost of electricity resulted in a 14.1% reduction in electricity usage from June 2000 to June 2001.[47]
Gray Davis critics often charge that he did not respond properly to the crisis, while his defenders attribute the crisis solely to thecorporate accounting scandals and say that Davis did all he could. Some critics on the left, such as Arianna Huffington, alleged that Davis was lulled to inaction by campaign contributions from energy producers.[49] Some of Davis's energy advisers were formerly employed by the same energy speculators who made millions from the crisis. In addition, the Democrat-controlled legislature would sometimes push Davis to act decisively by taking over power plants which were known to have been gamed and place them back under control of the utilities. Some conservatives argued that Davis signed overpriced energy contracts, employed incompetent negotiators, and refused to allow prices to rise for residences statewide much like they did in San Diego, which they argue could have given Davis more leverage against the energy traders and encouraged more conservation.[50] The electricity crisis is considered one of the major factors that lead to Davis's recall.

Top, ...... People.

Oh Well, Looks like those Retractions actually Do happen, at the Point where an entire State suffers Rolling Grey Outs.

Do we have to Wait until an Entire State gets Diagnosed, Poisoned, Crippled and Killed, ....... (it's Already/Still in the same Grey Out economic crapper) at the behest of Top, People, ....... before these Drugs and Diagnosers get Retracted?

In San Francisco They're After EVERY Child

Because EVERY Child, ...... needs to learns how to Think and Behave more like the Top, People who Diagnosed the pressing Need EVERY Child has for 'Mental Health' Services. ..... You know, ..... how to LIE, and Break the Law in order to put EVERYONE Else's Money into their pockets, ....... .


Behavioral Science that Medicare/Medicaid can't even Legally reimburse for because it's the Political Nonsense of Hegel, and Marx being recycled by a woman possessed of not 1 but 2, INCURABLE MENTAL DEFECTS: Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia. (at least according to Mental Health's own rules she's Incompetent).

Top, People.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Disruptive - Read DSM INSANE - Clinician Behavior: A Persistent Threat To Patient Safety

Dateline August 2006

Patient Safety And Quality Healthcare has;

Disruptive Clinician Behavior: A Persistent Threat To Patient Safety

And remember folks, consumers Are being Injured and Killed by these DSM-able Raving Lunatics, whom State Diversion Fiascos continue to Rehabilitate from DSM 'Incurable Mental Illnesses' and return them back out into the trenches unlike the consumers their Psychiatric Co-Paper Purchasers Lie to, Deceive, Defraud, Poison, Electrocute, and Disable, For Life, with their 14th Amendment Violating Pantload.

There's no 'possibly/probably dangerous' to themselves or others here. These medical license consumers ARE LETHAL, and they're OFF the Legal Reservation.

We could apply DSM  Billing Codes to them on a case by case, it doesn't take more than a double digit IQ, but the APA prints Stern and Severe Warnings at potential Infringers of their Intellectual Property Rights inside their Necronomicon. 

Yeah, it's not Enough that the tome is a work of Fiction, but the authors are Scared that the Little People they Feed on will get Wise to them, so they hide behind Copyright Law to keep their money making Secrets unknown to the marks.

How are non-Diversion Program non-Public Employees supposed to know if they're in danger of becoming 'Mentally Ill'  without buying the Book?

They're expected to Consult a Psychiatrist in order to preserve or protect their 'Mental Health' and the minute they do, ...... Screwed for Life, ....... Diagnosed, ...... by Pill Pushing, Racketeering, Murder Peddling Quacks.

Ah yes, Such is the nature of business, except that in This case, it's Already Major League Illegal. 

Disruptive Clinician Behavior:
A Persistent Threat to Patient Safety

Surgeon Arrested After Throwing Fit

Disruptive clinician behavior is increasingly capturing the attention of healthcare providers and leaders and is even making headlines in newspapers. This is due in part to the growing focus on the role of culture as a contributing factor in medical errors. To a great extent, healthcare organizations devoted their initial efforts in patient safety to training and to redesigning clinical processes such as medication administration. However, there is no evidence that error rates have decreased as a result of these efforts, and like the airline industry before it, the healthcare industry has begun to realize that human interaction is an important but largely ignored source of error.
Increasingly, healthcare organizations are devoting efforts to creating a culture of safety, one in which every member of the healthcare team feels safe in voicing opinions and concerns regarding a patient's plan of care and in which the fear commonly associated with reporting errors or disagreeing with those in positions of authority is eliminated. The complementary concepts of teamwork (Wilson, Burke, & Salas, 2005) and high reliability organizations (Weick & Sutcliffe, 2001) have also gained popularity and further underscore the importance of developing cultures in which all members of the healthcare team work collaboratively and respectfully, monitoring and correcting each other's performance and providing input into the team's work and decisions, regardless of power and rank. David Marx's work on Just Culture (, which outlines guiding principles for preserving individual accountability in a non-punitive environment, has also helped to focus attention on the importance of culture in preventing errors. All of these emerging patient safety practices are clearly at odds with disruptive clinician behavior, and this is causing healthcare organizations and the industry as a whole to re-examine their long-standing tolerance of such behavior. This article examines the nature, frequency, and causes of disruptive behavior, explores why many organizations have been unsuccessful in addressing this issue, and provides guidance for healthcare organizations to adopt a comprehensive plan to eliminate this vexing problem.
What is disruptive behavior?
Anything a clinician does that interferes with the orderly conduct of hospital business, from patient care to committee work, can be considered disruptive. This includes behavior that interferes with the ability of others to effectively carry out their duties or that undermines the patient's confidence in the hospital or another member of the healthcare team. Some specific examples of disruptive behavior, suggested in part by Neff (2000) and expanded on by the authors, include:
  • Profane or disrespectful language
  • Demeaning behavior, such as name-calling
  • Sexual comments or innuendo
  • Inappropriate touching, sexual or otherwise
  • Racial or ethnic jokes
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Throwing instruments, charts, or other objects
  • Criticizing other caregivers in front of patients or other staff
  • Comments that undermine a patient's trust in other caregivers or the hospital
  • Comments that undermine a caregiver's self-confidence in caring for patients
  • Failure to adequately address safety concerns or patient care needs expressed by another caregiver
  • Intimidating behavior that has the effect of suppressing input by other members of the healthcare team
  • Deliberate failure to adhere to organizational policies without adequate evidence to support the alternative chosen
  • Retaliation against any member of the healthcare team who has reported an instance of violation of the code of conduct or who has participated in the investigation of such an incident, regardless of the perceived veracity of the report
It is important to note that disruptive behaviors are not limited to physicians, although an abundance of literature documents abusive physician behavior. Because of their positions of relative power in healthcare systems, physicians' disruptive behaviors often have a much greater impact on other clinicians and the system as a whole. For this reason, much attention has been directed at physician disruptive behavior and relatively little at such behavior by other members of the healthcare team. It should be noted, however, that disruptive behavior has also been documented to occur with regularity among nurses and pharmacists as well as those working in radiology and the laboratory (ISMP, 2003; Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005).
Disruptive behaviors are most often not associated with drug or alcohol impairment, although that connection is frequently assumed by organizations, especially when physicians are involved. Organizations are often tempted to funnel disruptive physician behavior problems to impaired physician committees because they are reluctant to take disciplinary action and believe that the mechanisms in place for dealing with impaired physicians provide a less painful alternative. However, as will be discussed below, this is often a poor choice, since most disruptive physicians are not impaired, the Oakland case notwithstanding. In fact, according to a survey of physician executives conducted by the American College of Physician Executives (ACPE) in 2004, substance abuse accounts for less than 10% of physician behavior problems (Weber, 2004).
What drives disruptive behavior?
It is difficult to know with certainty what triggers these behaviors, but it is likely that the stress of clinical environments is a contributing factor. Healthcare is much more complex today and requires the interactions of a larger number of caregivers and support personnel than in the past. In addition, production pressure is common due to the financial constraints placed on organizations and physicians by decreasing reimbursements and revenues. Workforce pressures have conspired to create an environment in which some members of the healthcare team, particularly nurses, are in short supply. These shortages have led many healthcare organizations to employ short-term staffing solutions, such as use of agency personnel and traveling nurses. This, in turn, undermines the cohesiveness of the team and may also lead to cultural differences among team members that impair effective communication and teamwork. Increased governmental oversight, intrusive managed care regulations, and greater liability risks have also been cited as factors that increase pressure and may contribute to disruptive behavior (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005; Weber, 2004).
In addition, the cultural shift suggested by the patient safety movement from a paternalistic, "captain of the ship" model to a team-based approach with empowerment of and accountability to all team members may itself contribute to perceived loss of autonomy and increase frustration on the part of the more seasoned physicians. All of these factors likely play a role in the increase of work-related stress and the erosion of mutual respect among team members, creating a fertile atmosphere for disruptive behavior to take hold and flourish.
Are physicians the worst offenders?
Disruptive behavior by physicians tends to be driven, at least in part, by their relative positions of power. At a time when hospitals were focused on maintaining the right numbers of physicians, and the attendant admissions generated by them, they began to classify physicians as "customers." Because "the customer is always right," hospitals tolerated a wide variety of aberrant behavior, including resistance to standardization of supplies and equipment, refusal to comply with clinical policies and pathways, and other increasingly disruptive behavior.
Because of physicians' relative positions of power in healthcare organizations, they tend to have a greater impact when they are disruptive. In addition, there is some evidence that physicians are more frequently disruptive than others on the healthcare team (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005). It is also the case that physicians, particularly those who generate high revenues for hospitals, receive more favorable treatment when they are disruptive. Physician disruptive behavior is frequently ignored or tolerated, in part because those responsible for addressing the behavior find it to be a difficult and unpleasant task and because even when they undertake to do so, organizational mechanisms often prove inadequate to solve the problem (Leape & Fromson, 2006; Weber, 2004). Indeed, disruptive physicians are frequently "indulged," as healthcare managers give into their demands simply to shut them up and stop the disruptive behavior. This, in effect, rewards the disruptive behavior and has led to "normalization of deviance," with disruptive behavior becoming an accepted way of doing business for some physicians, and even for non-physicians who imitate the behavior.
What is the frequency of disruptive behavior?
It is unclear whether the problem of disruptive clinician behavior is getting worse, although this is a common perception. Mixed opinions were elicited in both the ACPE survey as well as in discussion on the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) listserv.* It is possible that greater attention to this issue, combined with successful ferreting out of less serious behavioral issues, makes the remaining problems appear much worse. Many researchers agree that disruptive behavior is confined to a small number of clinicians, comprising less than 5% of the total population of clinicians (Weber, 2004; Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005; Linney, 1997). However, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) 2003 survey on intimidation raises the possibility that this problem is more widespread than previously thought.
* National Patient Safety Foundation listserv discussion thread entitled "Disruptive clinician behavior," March 21-31, 2006. Available at
Physician abuse of nurses is common, with 64% of nurses reporting that they experienced some form of verbal abuse from a physician at least once every 2 to 3 months (Diaz & McMillin, 1991). In the same study, 23% of nurses reported at least one instance of physical threat from a physician, with the most common being having an object thrown at them. Likewise, in a 2002 survey of VHA hospitals, 96% of nurses witnessed or experienced disruptive physician behavior (Rosenstein, 2002).
As mentioned earlier, disruptive behavior is known to occur among many members of the healthcare team, not just physicians. In a 2005 survey of VHA hospitals, 68% of respondents reported that they witnessed disruptive behavior by nurses (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005), and the same study made reference to an unpublished VHA survey that found such behavior in radiology and the laboratory as well. The ISMP survey found that pharmacists were also capable of being disruptive, with some physicians reporting being intimidated by pharmacists.
Disrespect is the most common disruptive behavior exhibited by physicians (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005; ISMP, 2003). More than 95% of physician executives surveyed reported encountering disruptive or potentially dangerous physician behaviors on a regular basis, and the same study also found that disruptive behavior problems almost always involve conflict between a physician and a nurse, physician's assistant, or other staff member and rarely occur between physicians (Weber, 2004).
Subtle intimidation is more common than overt threatening behavior. According to the ISMP survey, the following were the most common of the subtle intimidation behaviors: condescending language or intonation (88%), impatience with questions (87%), and reluctance or refusal to answer questions or phone calls (79%). Overt intimidation behaviors most frequently encountered were: strong verbal abuse (48%), threatening body language (43%), and physical abuse (4%).
What is the impact of disruptive behavior?
One of the most often cited adverse consequences of disruptive clinician behavior is its impact on the workforce, especially turnover. Because of the shortage of nurses, many authors have focused on the impact of physician disruptive behavior on nurse retention. Nurses who are verbally abused report feelings of low self-esteem and worthlessness as well as fear (Diaz & McMillin, 1991). Nurses rate disruptive behavior as the single most important contributing factor to job satisfaction and morale, and 31% said they knew at least one nurse who left because of it (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005). In an early study, 18% of nurse turnover was directly attributed to verbal abuse. (Cox, 1987) Using multipliers of 1.5 to 2 times annual salary commonly used by human resource departments and consultants, the cost of replacing a registered nurse makes the problem of disruptive behavior a significant financial liability for hospitals.
Disruptive clinician behavior has a direct impact on patient safety as well. According to the ISMP survey, 49% of clinicians have felt pressured to dispense or administer a drug despite serious and unresolved safety concerns, and 40% have kept quiet rather than question a known intimidator. Other studies have shown that recipients of abusive behavior learn to cope by avoiding the abuser, even if this means failing to call when warranted and avoiding making suggestions that might improve care (Diaz, 1991; Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005; Maxfield, et al., 2005). In one study, 17% reported that an adverse event occurred as a result of disruptive behavior (Rosenstein &O'Daniel, 2005). In a recent USA Today article, Dennis O'Leary, president of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), stated that wrong site surgery is increasing in frequency (USA, 2006). This problem is attributed in part to refusal by surgeons to comply with preoperative time-out and surgical site marking requirements because of resentment about decreased autonomy and resistance to standardized procedures.
The recent NPSF listserv discussion thread also contained postings from patients and family members of patients who witnessed disruptive behavior by clinicians and whose care was adversely affected as a result. In the Oakland case cited at the beginning of this article, the patient in question was forced to wait until the following day for his surgery due to the surgeon's disruptive behavior. One can only guess what might have happened to the patient if the OR team had allowed the equipment borrowed from the other hospital to be used without being sterilized.
Disruptive clinician behavior has other hidden costs as well. Such behavior tends to decrease the productivity of the unit involved, as was the case in Oakland when the surgery had to be postponed until the following day. It also consumes extensive amounts of administrative time, forcing staff to manage the "post-disruption" turmoil. Policy and procedural change often becomes protracted when disrupters resist those changes, again consuming administrative time and decreasing productivity as "workarounds" persist. Disruptive behavior can also consume material resources, such as when thrown instruments must be re-sterilized or unused supplies discarded due to disruptive behavior. It is widely known that lack of standardization due to physician insistence on autonomy costs hospitals large sums of money annually, particularly in the area of joint replacement, where hospitals costs by far exceed reimbursement for these procedures. It is likely that the true costs of disruptive behavior have not been fully accounted for and contribute to the financial challenges healthcare organizations face.
Why don't current systems work?
As stated above, hospital responses to reports of disruptive behavior are frequently viewed as ineffective. A major reason they fail is that many organizations have not implemented a comprehensive and consistent plan that addresses all the pertinent issues and provides sufficient options for intervention. Instead, most hospitals have policies in place to address only the most egregious behaviors and often ignore patterns of disruptive behavior until they reach dangerous levels. This is especially true for physician "disrupters." In effect, organizations often provide only two alternatives for dealing with disruptive colleagues: the "fly swatter" approach, consisting of counseling the physician not to engage in disruptive behavior again, or the "sledgehammer" approach, which entails severe actions such as suspension and/or termination of privileges, with attendant reports to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Perhaps understandably, a disruptive physician's colleagues are reluctant to trigger a disciplinary process that could have a significant adverse impact on the physician's ability to practice, and thus the "flyswatter" approach is predictably used more often. Thus reports of subtle intimidation, disrespect, and non-responsiveness to patient needs — the most common of disruptive behaviors — are ignored or tolerated until patient injury occurs, at which time the most extreme forms of discipline are undertaken. Indeed, many physicians complain that they were not informed about problems with their conduct until they faced suspension (Leape & Fromson, 2006).
In addition, as mentioned earlier, many organizations try to rely on physician well-being or impairment committees that are designed to deal primarily with impaired physicians. Since most disruptive physicians are not impaired, and the disruptive behavior pattern frequently requires a counseling or disciplinary intervention, this is often a poor fit. Physician impairment and well-being committees are not trained or empowered to deal with disciplinary problems, and tasking them with this inevitably results in a failure to take action.
The reverse situation exists with respect to employees. While many hospitals have clear disciplinary policies in place when an employee fails to perform in the manner expected, there is often little in the way of support and coaching for disruptive employees. It is a fundamental violation of the principles of a safe and just culture to to allow disruptive physicians to choose alternatives to discipline without providing the same resources for employed staff. Similarly, it is a fundamental violation of fairness in the workplace to strictly enforce rules of expected behavior for employees while promoting "normalization of deviance" in cases of physician disruptive behavior. These two violations of the principles of fairness in the workplace contribute greatly to the destruction of organizational morale.
Hospitals often have ineffective mechanisms in place for monitoring compliance that rely almost exclusively on largely ineffective voluntary reporting systems. Since disruptive behavior often produces fear and intimidation, it is unrealistic to expect that voluntary reporting will effectively and reliably identify disruptive behavior. This is aggravated by lack of strong policies and systems to protect those who report or cooperate in the investigation of disruptive behavior.
What should organizations do?
What is needed is a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that provides a variety of options for dealing with disruptive behavior, depending on severity as well as mitigating factors, such as excessive personal or professional stress, which must also be addressed, but in a different manner. Such an approach would include the following key components:
  • Universal code of conduct. The list of disruptive behaviors at the beginning of this article serves as a foundation for crafting a code of conduct that is specific and provides guidance to both clinicians and hospital leadership. While many organizations prefer to craft a code of conduct that is aspirational in tone, the authors have found that it is equally important to clearly describe those behaviors that are unacceptable. Including such a list provides more complete guidance and leaves less room for violators to later argue that their behavior is acceptable. The code of conduct should be identical for both hospital staff and physicians, as well as for patients and their families, guests, and vendors on hospital grounds. The code should be accompanied by any policies, procedures, or regulations to permit it to serve as grounds for dismissal or termination for violators. The code should be developed and modified as needed by an interdisciplinary committee composed of users — nurses, physicians, pharmacists, other support staff, and administrators.
  • Planned implementation of a universal code of conduct. In order for the universal code of conduct to become a true source of guidance for both physicians and staff, the organization must execute an implementation plan that properly honors the importance of the code. This requires formal adoption by the medical staff and the hospital, and incorporation into the medical staff by-laws as well as hospital policy. Every staff member and physician must be notified of the adoption of the code and should receive a copy of the universal code of conduct together with training about the code and attendant behavioral expectations. Such training should include guidance about what to do in the event that he or she witnesses behavior that violates the code. Following the training, each staff member and physician should be required to sign a statement of intent to comply with the code of conduct, which should include an acknowledgement that failure to comply may result in disciplinary action up to and including suspension or termination of employment or privileges. The statement should be re-signed by physicians at reappointment and annually by employed staff as part of their performance reviews. This communicates the importance of the code and also provides documentation that can be used to refute later claims made by violators who are disciplined.
  • Compliance monitoring. Along with a well-worded universal code of conduct, healthcare organizations must have a well-designed plan for monitoring compliance with the code. This requires a system for detecting code violations that does not rely exclusively on voluntary reporting. Rather, the organization must implement vigorous performance monitoring mechanisms that should include regular surveys of staff, focus groups, peer and team member evaluations, and rounding with direct observation to detect incidents of disruptive behavior. All hospital and medical staff leaders must receive training on how to maintain effective vigilance for code violations as well as appropriate responses. Many instances of disruptive behavior are unreported due to fear (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005). Even in the absence of fear, only about 10% of clinicians express concerns about clinical performance or behavior to a peer, with physicians being somewhat more reluctant than nurses (Maxfield, et al., 2005; Leape & Fromson, 2006). Therefore, organizations must address the inadequacies of voluntary reporting systems and peer monitoring with effective alternatives designed to ferret out and address disruptive behavior problems before patient injury occurs.
  • Non-retaliation provisions. The universal code of conduct compliance monitoring system must be complemented by a clear policy of non-retaliation. In addition to incorporating a prohibition against retaliation into the code itself, the organization must clearly spell out its commitment to protect all staff members and physicians against retaliation for reporting of code violations or for participating in investigations of violations. This includes a statement about the penalties for retaliatory behavior, which should be severe.
  • Code enforcement. A major reason that disruptive behavior policies are viewed as ineffective by both physicians and hospital staff is that they are rarely enforced (Rosenstein & O'Daniel, 2005). In the 2005 survey of VHA hospitals conducted by Rosenstein and O'Daniel, respondents were asked if their hospitals had participated in a previous survey on disruptive behavior conducted 3 years earlier and whether anything had changed as a result. Only one third of hospitals that had participated in the first survey had taken any action, and only 24% of those reported any improvement.

    Hospitals must counteract the corrosive effects of a past history of tolerance and indifference to disruptive behavior, especially on the part of physicians, with consistent, unfailing, timely, yet just responses to code violations. For both physicians and employees, this must include progressive discipline together with screening for mitigating factors, such as excessive stress or illness, and lack of knowledge and experience. However, such mitigating factors should not be presumed to exist nor used as an excuse for inaction, particularly in the case of disruptive physician behavior.

    Each instance of disruptive behavior must be investigated and documented by staff trained to discern the severity of the violation, the presence of mitigating factors, and the existence of risk of harm to patients. The investigation should include statements from those involved as well as witnesses, if any. The "disrupter" must likewise be interviewed and given the opportunity to supply information, and this interview should be conducted by the interviewer in the presence of a witness with authority to concur in a recommendation for immediate action, if needed.

    Both hospital policies and medical staff by-laws must spell out in detail the steps to be taken in response to a verified report of disruptive behavior. The process should be consistent for both hospital staff and physicians in one key aspect: instances of disruptive behavior that put patients at risk of harm should result in immediate suspension and removal of the perpetrator from the environment in order to protect patients. Of course, medical staff by-laws must contain due process provisions required by law, but under no circumstances should patient safety be sacrificed. In one case, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that a cardiologist's suspension for striking a lab technician was "... appropriate when patient safety requires it and bylaws provide adequate standards for summary suspension and a post-suspension hearing process." The court further ruled that the Health Care Quality Improvement Act provided federal standards for such suspensions.
  • Flexibility. The hospital must make available resources for coaching and mentoring of both employees and physicians when evaluation of the disruptive behavior indicates that this is the most advisable course of action. In keeping with principles of a culture of safety as well as just culture, the hospital must ensure that it treats both employees and medical staff fairly while maintaining individual accountability for performance. This requires not only swift disciplinary action when warranted, but the withholding of discipline when it is not.
  • Oversight committee. A multidisciplinary oversight committee must be appointed to monitor the progress of code implementation as well as code violations. The committee should review not only individual violations but also the pattern of violations to determine system factors that may be contributing to excessive conflict in the work environment. The committee should be empowered to recommend actions to eliminate recurrent sources of tension or conflict in the work environment, including but not limited to measures to improve patient safety, teamwork, collaboration, and communication.
  • Preventive strategies. Hospitals should implement known best practices designed to improve relationships between members of the healthcare team. These include standardized and comprehensive conflict resolution strategies to be used by all members of healthcare team and designed to resolve disagreements before they escalate; standardized communication techniques, such as SBAR, which can greatly reduce the friction that often results when nurses call physicians during off hours and which ensures that all pertinent patient information is communicated during handoffs; and formal teamwork training designed to improve collaboration, cross- monitoring, and communication among members of the healthcare team.
Addressing the problem of disruptive clinician behavior requires more than simply adopting policies and educating staff. It requires the organization to:
  • undertake a cultural transformation such that each member of the healthcare team is able to function effectively in an atmosphere of respect and collaboration;
  • shift away from a model that identifies physicians as customers; and
  • stop tolerating disruptive behavior rather than doing the hard work necessary to effectively manage and eliminate it.
In short, organizations must adopt and foster a culture in which all members of the healthcare team, including physicians, are trusted collaborators who, with other members of the healthcare team, serve the true customer — the patient.

Update on the Oakland Neurosurgeon Case

Grena Porto is the founder and principal of QRS Healthcare Consulting, LLC (, which specializes in providing customized consulting support to healthcare organizations in the areas of patient safety, risk management, and quality improvement. Prior to forming her own company, Porto served VHA, Inc., first as director of clinical risk management and then as Senior Director of Clinical Consulting. She has over 20 years' experience in all areas of risk management, including loss prevention, risk financing, and claims management. She served as regional claims manager for a large national insurer, and was also director of risk management at a large academic medical center in New York. Porto is a past president of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) and has served on the Board of Directors of the National Patient Safety Foundation. Porto is a distinguished fellow of ASHRM and has also attained the designations of associate in risk management (ARM) from the Insurance Institute of American, and certified professional in healthcare risk management (CPHRM) from the American Hospital Association. She holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master of science degree in health administration from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She currently serves on JCAHO's Sentinel Event Advisory Group and is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare. Porto may be contacted at
Richard Lauve is the founder and principal of L&A Consulting where he assists clients throughout the country with issues of hospital-physician relationships, board-administration-physician team development, clinician team development, and physician leadership. His offerings are designed to develop and secure physician participation in hospital and healthcare system efficiency improvement. Lauve received his medical doctorate from the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. After completing an internal medicine residency, he served in the National Health Service Corps for 6 years, practicing solo internal medicine in rural Utah. Lauve received his masters in business administration from the Freeman School of Business at Tulane University. He is a fellow of the American College of Physician Executives, and has received designation from the College of Certified Physician Executive (CPE). Lauve most recently served as medical director and vice president of clinical affairs of the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee regional office of VHA, Inc. Prior to joining VHA, Lauve was the vice president of medical affairs for Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also served in the past as the medical director for the faculty practice at LSU New Orleans, and taught ethics and medical management to medical students and residents for 8 years from his position as assistant to the chair of medicine. While at LSU, Lauve also served as the medical director of a 120-bed multi-unit "hospital within the hospital" at Charity in New Orleans and provided consulting services to a wide range of healthcare organizations and professionals. He may be contacted at

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In our Last Post covering US 18C95 Sec 1958: The Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities in The Commission of Murder For Hire we stumbled into Ca. Governor Grey Davis, who appointed for a 12 year term to run the UC Board of Regents the husband of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Mr Richard Blum.

Governor Davis was such a Monumental Disaster that the Voters launched a special Recall Election in 2003, and dragged him out of Office before his term expired.

Physician Diversion Programs