US News: When arrogant docs drive nurses away, patients suffer

Nurses General Nursing


While I'm glad to see nursing issues getting media attention, it's really sad that it's taken a nationwide critical nursing shortage to get anyone to care:

"When arrogant docs drive nurses away, patients suffer--

"Irate doctors hurling surgical clamps at nurses are admittedly rare. So such acts, as outrageous as they are, can't really be blamed for the severe nursing shortage now hobbling hospitals. Nor is it low pay, says nurse Nicola Smith, an 11-year veteran working at UC-Davis Medical Center in California": 'It's a matter of disrespect.'


"Escaping abuse. Nursing is not about the money, trite as that may sound. In the American Journal of Nursing survey, "we found that workplace environment was an even stronger factor than compensation when it came to satisfaction," says internist Alan Rosenstein, author of the study and medical director of VHA's West Coast division. In fact, salaries aren't altogether bad, says Diana Mason, editor of the nursing journal. "As a new nurse, at a New York City hospital, you can start at $60,000." Some hospitals elsewhere are offering signing bonuses of $30,000. 'It doesn't matter," says Mason. "We won't stay in a place that's abusive.'

"What Rosenstein found in his research was that more than 90 percent of his respondents had witnessed yelling, public berating of nurses (and even patients) by doctors, and abusive language. Perhaps more alarming, he also found that doctors don't think such abuse is a big deal. At times, this is because doctors, facing an urgent situation, focus on speed and need rather than their people skills. Still, nurses have had to devise defenses, like announcing "Code White Coat" over the hospital intercom: Nurses hearing the code move to the beleaguered nurse's side and stare at the doctor, making it clear there are witnesses.

"Yet hospitals often seem reluctant to discipline wayward doctors. 'They bring patients to the hospital, and that's a source of revenue,' Rosenstein says.


"So Baptist started trying some new things. Physicians were told there would be no more abusive behavior. Nurses were given power to change the way their wards operated. One thing that changed was the ER, says Diane Wilbanks, vice president of patient care services. A triage nurse replaced a receptionist, reducing waiting times. Nurses also started voting for an outstanding physician each week, and doctors soon began competing for the designation by spending more time teaching nurses."


712 Posts

I don't doub that is being on of the reasons why nurses are not coming to the bedside. For the lousy pay who would want to be abused left and right. When I worked as a unit clerk in Labor&Delivery there were a couple of MD's that were nasty to the staff always threatening and saying obscenities at them. I knew the way my personality was I would never tolerate that behavior. Now I am a RN I haven't encountered abuse to that extent but occasional nasty attitude when I call. First thing I do is never appologize for calling it is their job to be contacted 24 when on call. I state what I need and get off the phone.

I understand some Docs bring in patients but if there werent nurses to tend to them it wouldn't make any difference. Nurses are just as important. They need to start recognizing that.


6,620 Posts

I think this abuse comes from everywhere, docs, patients, admin, other nurses. We need to work on changing the whole thing if we want nurses to stay.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

i agree, fergus. and good info, catlady....ty


790 Posts

I can handle an abusive doctor. It is the abusive administrators who can fire me that I have a problem with. My hospital does little to nothing about abusive docs. We write them up and it disappears. We get them another way. We don't refer a single soul to them. I don't know about you guys but I am forever being hit up for "Which doctor should I go to for this????" advice. I tell them who I like and why and then I tell them who they shouldn't go within a hundred miles of and why and let them decide.

Yes abuse from suits and docs and patients and visitors is all a part of the problem. But my major gripe is unsafe staffing. When I am the most senior on and everyone is 2 years or less it scares the hell out of me. Sure I'd like to get paid more, who wouldn't but I am more concerned by the fact that I am not even eligible to buy into health benefits when I retire. We havea lousy pension unless we contribute into it and even if we do, if the stock market is bad when I go to retire, I am screwed. Unaccountable managers are a big, make that huge issue in my work environment. If they did their jobs it would make morale bump up quite a bit.

There are no easy answers because there are so many contributing factors but I NEVER let a doctor abuse me or my colleagues. I give it right back to them. l.rae, I'm going to be borrowing your line of "you've got a boogar in your nose" real soon. That is hysterical.

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