Researchers talked to 77 hospital docs in Illinois and identified some common "unprofessional" behaviors. But how bad are they, really?
The study, with results appearing in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, contacted docs in three hospitals and asked them to report and grade unprofessional behaviors they observed or participated in on the job.
Understandably, "hospitalists reported witnessing unprofessional behaviour more frequently than taking part in it." The publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, reports:
The most common unprofessional behaviors that hospitalists reported participating in were: having non-medical or personal conversations in patient corridors (67%), ordering a routine test as urgent to expedite care (62%), signing out a patient over the phone when it could have been done in person (41%) and making fun of other physicians to colleagues (40%). But when the researchers looked at how many observed those same behaviours in colleagues, the figures were much higher, at 80%, 80.5%, 66% and 67.5% respectively.
These malfeasances are more likely to come up among younger doctors, male doctors, those with less clinical experience, those who had administrative duties, and those on the night shift.
In other words: Kids with more moxie than experience, who are tired and overworked.
"Our research suggests that educational interventions could be tailored towards hospitalists with certain job types or personal characteristics," says one of the authors.
Hmmm. While some of these behaviors are worse than others -- phone sign-out is a little negligent, at least, and "making fun" can escalate to harrassment -- can we agree that a little trash talk and personal chat is pretty much a necessity for most people on *any* rough job with long hours?
It may not be great to let patients observe such behaviors, and an occasional tightening-up of the ship may be needed to prevent things from getting out of hand. But some horseplay comes with the territory.