There's a lot of talk within the nursing and healthcare field of abuse and aggression towards nurses and medical professionals by patients and family members, but what happens when the abusive and aggressive role is played by another healthcare professional?
When this is seen or heard of, the issue is sometimes sweeped under the rug, as to say it is a normal way of conducting things. We have the coined term "nurses eat their young," promoting a routine hazing experienced by new nurses when in training. There is also the issue of physicians taking on an abusive attitude towards the nursing staff. So much so that newer nurses most time are afraid of calling or engaging in a conversation with a physician, due to fear of the well known aggressive or diminishing behaviors by the physicians.
Cases such as nurse Paula Rickey, a former nurse from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who after was kicked out of the an OR by a surgeon, who was than seen on video being hit in the back of the head by the said surgeon, are proof that these abusive relationships exists within the healthcare world. Surgeons are know to become upset in operating rooms and even known to throw instruments.
Once I witnessed a veteran nurse, who was also the assistant manager of an emergency room, question a physician's decision to clear a patient for discharge who had some critical lab results, his response? "Who's the Doctor here? Me or you?" The nurse politely responded in an apologetic manner stating that her 35 years of experience was no match to his medical degree. This doctor was probably 35 years old.
What is the limit of this sort of abuse and bullying? If we are all on the same team to provide medical care for the patients we serve, why should this hostile culture persist and be overlooked?
Due to the complex system of care delivery, we work with a multidisciplinary team approach, requiring mutual collaboration from those involved. This collaboration involves trust, respect and shared decision making regarding a patient's care, to accomplish this we must have open dialogue among all those involved.
We are healthcare professionals and must act as such, behaviors that are disruptive can not and should not be tolerated in the work place. It interferes with the intraprofessional environment that surrounds patient care.
As nurses we should receive more training in conflict resolution, in my personal belief. We are an intersection connecting busy highways, the AACCN recognizes the importance of proficient communication as a standard for healthy work environment. Conflict arises constantly in the nursing world, most importantly do not engage in a power struggle with anyone. If you feel the situations is getting out of control, remove yourself and use your chain of command to find resolution. I advocate for nurses and I also like to be realistic, if a nurse is caught in a conflict with a physician, more often than not, the nurse will be handed the short end of the stick. But, do not, under any circumstances, allow abusive behavior to be treated as normal, or my someone to brush it off as "that's just how that person is."
Some physicians just love to feel superior and to have the nurses abide by their foolishness. Just as I was finishing this post while eating lunch today, I was told a physician raised hell because I was not in the unit, and he wanted to give me a prescription for our patient. Conflict resolution; "Hi charge nurse, please tell nurse Klaus that there are Rx in the chart for the patient, thank you. Have a lovely day!" There, no secret, no one gets upset.
The Dude Nurse
Klaus Campos, BSN-RN