Verbal Abuse from surgeons in the OR - page 3

Just curious... How commonly do you OR nurses out there experience verbal abuse and/or disruptive behavior from surgeons? How do you or your facility deal with this issue? In the facility... Read More

  1. by   CseMgr1
    Wanting to try "something different" as a new graduate nurse back in '81, I asked our DON if I could work the O.R.

    I lasted 3 days...Not because of anything the surgeons did (they were wonderful), but because the O.R. supervisor was such a
    b----. I had heard horror stories from the other nurses about how difficult this woman was to work with, but didn't believe it, until I got in there...and it was my WORST nightmare come true. She had the personality of a wet rag, with ZILCH patience, and belittled and humiliated me in front of the other nurses and doctors. The final straw came, when I was trying my best to drape a patient for a lumbar laminectomy....and she literally snatched the drape out of my hands and and yelled at me to "get OUT of the way!" If THAT wasn't abuse, I don't know what is.

    Thank GOD I had the sense to walk out of there when I did. I almost ran into another supervisor, and when she looked at me, she knew something was terribly wrong, for she said that my face was white with anger. All I could do was sputter: "Get her off my back!", and the supervisor (bless her), grabbed hold of me, and quickly took me into the nurses' lounge....sat with me and calmed me down, for I was ready to punch that woman's lights out. I then requested and received an immediate transfer back to the floor. I reported this woman's abuse to the DON, but nothing was done, because, according to her: "We couldn't run our OR without her".

    I had worked at that hospital for seven years...and that incident literally destroyed my self-confidence...and I left only a few months later, to begin working in Home Health. Abuse comes in all shapes and forms...and when it is condoned, like it was at that place, it is definitely time to move on. It was...and has been, to this day, the WORST experience of my nursing career.
  2. by   spineCNOR
    Dawn,

    You are NOT over-reacting!!!! Your manager and employee health nurse are under-reacting.

    First of all, I am sure that you filled out an incident report- I also suggest that you write down your version of this incident, have it signed any witnesses in the room- the other OR staff and anesthesia, if they are willing to do so. Then, send a copy to the CEO of your hospital, the OR director, your manager, and the chief of surgery, and the employee health nurse and her manager, as well as the nurse and doc at your hospital who is over infection control.

    Then, I recommend that you see an attorney. I do not know the law, but I would think this could be considered battery.

    DO not let this drop--this surgeon, and your manager and the EH nurse are putting you in danger by their behavior. This is not acceptable!
  3. by   carcha
    yeah, I'm working with the worlds biggest ******* right now. His language is beyond belief!. The sad thing is hes a hopeless surgeon and I think his attitude is an attempt to try to make everyone else around him look bad. Hey buddy, "IT DOSENT WORK"
  4. by   DawnRN36
    Thanks everyone for your replies. I did make that letter of complaint after talking with our medical director, who, at the time, seemed very unerstanding. He said he would be by to pick up the letter personally....and guess what. Haven't seen him. Hmmmm Not suprised here. The thing that really burns my butter is I can take hatefulness and cursing...heck I lay odds I could cuss any one of them under the table...but lay a hand on me...oh please just try it. Can't operate too well with broken hands, kwim?
  5. by   flynrn
    Unfortunately, if you are a RN you don't have the same rights re: assault from Drs.
  6. by   flynrn
    When they get "on their high horse" just smile, keep quiet, and picture them in boxer shorts. It will help you laugh
  7. by   RoxyB
    I worked as an O.R. Tech.(assistant), for 8 years and the verbal abuse was a factor, but I worked with enough nice surgeons to not let the jerks bother me!! Too many good ones to make up for the mean ones. By the way, I just took a job as a surgical instrument sales rep., better money and less verbal abuse!!!
  8. by   amycar11
    being a student nurse, i've always noticed that "most" doctors really do have this certain amount of egoism... it's not just the OR doctors (surgeons)... (no offense to some of my doctor friends)

    most of them like to "undermine" nurses and always make this biting remarks about "how nurses do a sloppy job"... it's a very sad story...

    ...now, it's no wonder, many doctors in my country are taking up nursing!!! :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle :chuckle
  9. by   efy2178
    I worked as an RN in the OR and was team leader for a group of very abusive physicians. Administration did nothing unless it was so obvious (like the time a surgeon threw a scalpel across the room and between two techs. He was made to apologize which basically amounted to "I'm so sorry you made me mad enough to throw something at you."!!!)
    No one should ever believe they deserve to be abused. EVER. No matter if you are not doing your job well, no matter if you are having an off day, made a stupid mistake, etc. No one is ever entitiled to abuse you. OK? The person who responded that the people who get abused should have done this or that better is WRONG!!!
    That being said what do you do when you are verbally abused? Well it is difficult to discuss or argue at the table- if it is something that needs to immediately stop, call the supervisor into the room. Otherwise have a talk with the physician afterwards. Tell him you will not tolerate the behavour. If you received grief about something you did not do well tell him/her you want to do better however, he/she is not entitled to be abusive. The document in a journal and file an anecdotal report.
    Let the supervisor know, file an incident report and if it involves physical abuse consider filing a police report and seeing an attorney. You may also go to Human resources and ask for the policy about abusive personnel. Physicians may not be employed by the hospital but they do have hospital provileges. Do let the employer off the hook. Let them know you are consulting an attorney.
    Then document! How to document? Get the names of everyone in the room. Ask them to write what happened and don't be surprises if they do not want to be involved, especially is there is no support from administration. Keep to the facts. Write direct quotes if you can. Write the date, time and anything else factual that will help you remember later on. Hospitals can and are sued for not protecting employees. It is called a hostile work environment. It does not have to be sexual in nature in order to be actionable.
    If you are in a union, all the better! You have the most protection here. If you are in a right to work state, you may be eventually fired for some other reason. You don't have much protection. SO again, document well. You may have a civil case.
    This happened to me and the hospital paid me to leave--thousands of dollars.
    Just remember, this is difficult to deal with. Abused nurses have committed suicide, had nervous breakdowns, suffered depression, alcoholism and drug abuse because of what verbal abuse does. Don't put up with it. Save yourself and find another job. Don't let your internal dialogue tell you it is your fault and you deserve it. NO ONE DOES!
    I'll get off my soapbox now.
    Ben there and done that,
    EFY2178
  10. by   Circl8r
    ...abusive surgeons will get theirs in the end!

    I have a friend who took a ration of crappola from one nut case, and went home and shared it with her husband. That night, the husband called the doc at home and told him that if he EVER deemed to speak to his wife again in anything less than a professional manner he would be waiting for him near his car. (He was a monstrously big man, and the surgeon knew it) A less than perfect way to handle it? Heck yeah, but...totally effective. The jackass was sweeter than pie to her everafter :kiss

    Here's my advice for what it's worth:

    1. Never get into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.
    2. NEVER let them see you cry. :imbar
    3. WRITE, WRITE, WRITE and make copies of the incident reports when it occurs.
    4. If your hospital does not have a policy on inappropriate physician behaviour, contact your risk management office and tell them what is going on.


    Sorry if I sound less than professional, but...I can't take idjits who think that they can abuse anyone in their path when things don't go their way. Betcha a dollar that they don't do that at home!!
  11. by   JenJen
    I had an experience with a fairly new general surgeon who was sweet as pie the first couple of years. Well, as he became more comfortable operating, he also became more verbally abusive. Imagine that! One evening he took it too far, threatening that if he had a gun and the opportunity, the first place he would begin was our OR, open fire on all of us! Hospital and Nursing Administration was immediately brought in. The doctor was put on probation, and ultimately he lost his priviledges at my hospital. It is nice not having to wonder if I will need to wear my Kevlar scrubs today.... Physician abuse of ANY kind is not tolerated here.
  12. by   ckalston
    I had one instance when doing sedation for a patient that the MD asked me to help the tech with something. Ordinarily I don't mind doing things like that, but at that moment I was pushing drugs, montioring respirations and documenting my vital signs. I told the MD I would in a minute and he hollered at me and said maybe you should grow a 3rd hand since you can't use the two you have. I told him if I grew a 3rd hand it would probably be to punch him out for talking to me like that.
    Another nurse said a surgeon called her stupid during a case. She was the scrub nurse and when the surgeon asked for an instrument after calling her stupid she just stared at him. He asked why she wasn't giving him his instrument. She said, I don't know, I must be stupid.
  13. by   Chrislynn2003
    Recently, a surgeon verbally abused one of my coworkers and she just put in her resignation letter. The sad thing is is that she had only been there 3 months. The surgeon was reprimanded and the issue was taken to a higher level. However, it still continues. Where I work, we do a lot of ortho, and many of the surgeons in this service have a mean disposition; I do not know why, and I think it would be a much better working environment if we just got rid of some of this unecessary stress.

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