Do doctors really yell at you, and get away with it?

  1. I was asked in my interview for nursing school to rank the level of importance of the following things from 1-10. And they asked things like "your patient isnt eating", "your classmate takes money from a patient during clinicals", and one of them said "the doctor yells at you". I ranked it the lowest because I figured he'd get over it.

    But the thing is: I began to wonder how often that happens, why did they ask me if it isnt something Im certain to run into more than once?
    Cant you just report the doc? I mean, do they get away with that sort of thing??

    I can see if you work in their family practice clinic maybe, but what about a hospital setting?

    Thanks for your responses.
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  2. 51 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    They haven't yelled much, beyond the occasional warning "don't do that!" I like to think they know I yell back, or perhaps they've just given up.

    Seriously, the yelling I have witnessed is usually because someone didn't know what they were doing, or didn't do what they were supposed to. Even worse- when some one messed up and tried to cover it. When you call the doc have the chart and fresh vitals in front of you- that will solve a lot of problems. If you are in a procedure you haven't done, or a conversation that you cannot follow just say so. "This is all new to me, can you repeat that part," or "I haven't assisted with this procedure before, would you take a look and see if I have everything you need, and just let me know if I can help as we go along."

    If you are unsure about a patient get a more experienced nurse to take a look too. You'll be better prepared to speak to the doc after talking with your coworker, and you can say "I got a second nurse to look and we both are concerned."

    In the end, if you witness raised voices, you can assume a lot more about the yeller then the yellee.
  4. by   solneeshka
    I'm a nurse and there are a lot of nurses in my family, all over the country. It seems to me to be a regional thing. That is, there is a different level of tolerance for this sort of thing in different areas of the country, almost like a regional personality. I went to nursing school in Austin and now work in St. Louis. At least at the facilities where I've been in there 2 cities, it's not an issue. I've never heard of it happening. When I was looking into moving to Colorado, it seemed like more nurses there had stories about getting yelled at. My sister-in-law works there and before I started nursing school, I asked her what surprised her the most about the profession, what she had encountered that she hadn't expected. She paused for a moment and said, "I didn't expect to get yelled at so much." She said it was by the doctors, by the families, and by the administrators. I was shocked! Maybe Colorado (and other) posters can shed some light.
  5. by   mamamerlee
    I believe the amount of yelling has diminshed quite a bit. I know - personally witnessed - doctors behaving inappropriately. Throwing things, like charts, yelling on the phone, hanging up a wall phone so hard it broke, cursing.

    But more places are telling the docs that they cannot treat the staff that way.

    Also, I have rarely seen the docs do this with male nurses. Very rarely.

    Happened more in the South than anywhere else.
  6. by   CaLLaCoDe
    Glad to know the last place I worked the doctors were not ones to fly off in a rage of gutter spiel; and, you the nurse expected to take it, thank goodness.

    But I've seen several doctors fly off the handle and act like perfect jerks. It takes a while for the caring staff to get over such outrageous behavior. You want to avoid such demons in the future. You just feel like letting the patient die rather than god forbid have to call them at 0300 over a legitimate concern. But of course you call and get a curt smart ass response along with hopefully an order.

    My favorite story involved what a doctor once said to another nurse: "I came to the realization that if I yelled at the nurses non of what I wanted to happen to my patient ever happened. When I started to behave myself with common courtesy all my orders were followed to a 'T' and my ulcer mysteriously disappeared!"
  7. by   PostOpPrincess
    That would be a definite NO.
  8. by   CalmEnurse
    Well, I've worked in the Southwest, East Coast and Midwest. And I've been yelled and cursed at by MDs in all three regions. As a new grad I was apologetic and anxious when it happened. Now, after 10 years as a nurse, I stand up for myself and my patients. My current hospital has a great anonymous reporting system for physician (or other staff) behavior incidents.
    And, I'll say that it is my single biggest pet peeve/ hot button issue when a member of the health care team disrespects or intimidates another member. Especially because the consequence is often decreased communication from nurse to MD, which compromises patient care. This is health care. We take care of people and egos should be checked at the door. MDs have gotten away with too much for too long, but I do think things are improving.
    Please know that most MDs (and health care staff in general) do not act inappropriately. Most are great. Those that aren't just stick out like the sore, self important losers, I mean, thumbs that they are.



    p.s. this is my first post after lurking for about a year, so you really know this issue is a big deal to me!!
  9. by   LibraNurse1974
    I see docs try it with females. As a male, at 6'0" and 250lbs of line backer build, they usually yell over the phone, look for me the next day, and then call me by my first name. I always repeat what they say that is inappropriate, so they hear what they are saying.

    Too many women take this, and they need to stop. I notice docs yell less when you have male nurses there, it's like they are afraid to step out of line when a male is there.

    I would hope that a group of girls can let that Doc know whats what also.
  10. by   KaitRN
    I work in a SNF/ Rehab facility where we report to an MD who calls in once a shift. As a new grad, I can assure you, the first time he yelled at me and became impatient with me I wanted to cry!!! However, I think once you become accustomed to different situations it becomes better. I also think that DR.'s can sense new grads and prey on that a little if they know we are unsure of something. (this is only for DR.'s with a complex. There are MANY really nice MDs, I should add!). So it's definitely out there but I don't let it bother me. I've learned how this one Dr. can be at my facility, and if he's in a mood, I'm short and sweet. It definitely helps in your communication skills though, as a new grad! take it as a positive learning experience! haha
  11. by   Faeriewand
    I've witnessed really bad behavior on the part of one doc who used the f word to a nurse because she didn't give him the right thing in an almost emergency situation. I wondered to my self if he only spoke like that to the room of nurses because they were all foreign born.

    I've been spoken to over the phone in a kind of abrupt way by doctors but not in person. But I did give positive feedback to one that called back to recheck the patient I had called about earlier and I thanked that doc for her concern and for explaining the reasoning to me why I shouldn't worry about some post op bleeding. I figured it was better to build bridges.

    Now I have most definitely wanted to yell at a few doctors myself. Especially the psychiatrist who acts like its a big deal when he gets to come in on a consult and acts like he's the one being harassed and asks me "Why did you call me?" I wanted to yell! Because the patient is obviously crazy!!! Why else would I call you!?! Dumbkopf!
    But later on (like a year) I realized that the answer he was looking for was something more clinical like the patient presents with such and such or the patient has a history of depression or bipolar etc. LOL!
  12. by   cokeforbreakfast
    MD yelling and tantrum does happen occassionally here in the midwest. I know more than one nurse with a story. However, when it happens repeatedly, it needs to be addressed. I quit a job once for this very reason; the stress was just too much. A few months later the office manager called back and said that the MD promised to quit yelling at me if I'd come back for a $5/hr raise. I gave it another shot, and I was treated me much, MUCH better. We get along great to this day, and the MD is on my resume as a reference.

    That said, he still treats the rest of the staff the way he used to treat me, because he knows they won't stand up to him, that they have mortgages and bills, so they can't just up and quit. They put up with it because it is good money and they like the patients, eachother, the job, etc...

    But if he can change for me, he can change for them, yet he chooses not to. And it's sad, because he has the greatest team of hardworking, self-motivated staff in his employ, and he completely takes it for granted.

    Anyway, a bit of a tangent, but that's my .
  13. by   emsboss
    Absolutely NOT!!!!... I am a male Nurse, but as has already been said, we ALL need to stand up for ourselves. If we make a mistake, own up to it, if the physician still wants to yell, have him/her go someplace private and do it. My worst experience was with a female physician; she told me she "would have my job" and I told her "you couldn't do my job." Disciplinary action followed shortly thereafter(for my response), BUT... I still work here and she and I get along fairly well now.
  14. by   eriksoln
    Quote from solneeshka
    I'm a nurse and there are a lot of nurses in my family, all over the country. It seems to me to be a regional thing. That is, there is a different level of tolerance for this sort of thing in different areas of the country, almost like a regional personality. I went to nursing school in Austin and now work in St. Louis. At least at the facilities where I've been in there 2 cities, it's not an issue. I've never heard of it happening. When I was looking into moving to Colorado, it seemed like more nurses there had stories about getting yelled at. My sister-in-law works there and before I started nursing school, I asked her what surprised her the most about the profession, what she had encountered that she hadn't expected. She paused for a moment and said, "I didn't expect to get yelled at so much." She said it was by the doctors, by the families, and by the administrators. I was shocked! Maybe Colorado (and other) posters can shed some light.

    Thats exactly what my experience as a travel nurse has led me to believe. I know for a fact, MANY travel nurses who came out of FLA were in the travel business to get away from poor work conditions in their home state. Many would not accept assignments in their own state. In WA, doctors never "yelled" or "screamed", because that was reportable and the administration would take it seriously. What they did instead was a sort of passive aggressive thing.........talking down to people, quick to run to the managers office over triffle details etc. Now, where I am at, in PA....its kinda middle of the road. Some will raise their voices, others will not.

    Its a tough situation to deal with. There is a fine line to be walked when considering if a physicians behavior is reportable or not. They are the money makers of the facility, so any report made against them will be taken with a grain of salt by the powers that be. On the other hand, there is the "schoolyard bully" syndrome to consider. Most doctors who raise their voices only do so because they see no consequence to it. They do it to one person, nothing happens.........do it to the next person and it gets forgotten......on and on until it becomes habit. Then they run into the person who won't put up with it and.............they don't know what to do with themselves. I've been that person on more than one occasion. Had an instance where I had to give a doctor who was getting VERY PERSONAL with me a warning. I let him know under no circumstances would I hesitate to put him on the floor if he continued to get personal with me. I actually made a thread here about it. I felt bad the next day but..........this guy was known for embarassing people and yelling for nonsense reasons. He reported me to my manager, I'm unsure if my "warning" came up or not. I'm still here, wasn't fired or even written up. Only thing my manager told me was to work on ignoring people of his sort. Now, this doctor is kind to me and has become one of my favorites. So.........who knows what the right answer is.

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