Organizational Implications

The Cost of Disruptive Behaviors

Disruptive physicians can be extremely costly in terms of lost time, productivity, and staff morale. Unchecked, they potentially threaten the safety of your patients and staff and can diminish the reputation of your institution or medical group. Disruptive behaviors have been associated with:

  • High employee turnover
  • Increased patient complaints
  • Preventable medical errors, adverse events and outcomes
  • Increased cost of care
  • Increased exposure to malpractice claims and lawsuits.

In a 2003 survey by the Institute for Safe Medical Practices, 49% of clinicians felt pressured to dispense or administer a drug despite serious and unresolved safety concerns — and 40% have kept quiet rather than question a known intimidator.

Barriers to Seeking Help

Organizational Reluctance

When confronted with a disruptive behavior, many hospitals and medical groups lack staff with the awareness and skill set to intervene effectively when a colleague or employee first begins behaving unprofessionally.

Organizations are reluctant to jeopardize relationships with high-earning physicians who generate substantial revenue streams for their organizations. They admit that they are often “softer“ on these individuals until an extreme situation forces them to confront the issue. In addition, colleagues are reluctant to confront peers they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Few organizations have programs in place to identify problem physicians or monitor their performance through a remediation process. Many simply fail to enforce the policies they already have in place.

Barriers to Seeking Help

Physician Concerns

In addition to a general reluctance to seek help, the most frequently cited reasons that physicians fail to seek help include: lack of time, confidentiality concerns, cost of treatment, fear of stigma, and potential loss of privileges or licensure, among others.

It’s often difficult for physician to find trusted sources of help close to where they work and live — particularly in smaller communities or within health systems where confidential treatment options are limited.

In addition, programs located in other cities or states often require extended absences from work, resulting in lost income as well as questions about the absence.

Benefits of Early Intervention

Typically the longer you wait to deal with a performance issue or disruptive behavior, the more you have to lose. Organizations that can identify and deal with disruptive behaviors and performance problems at the earliest stages not only save themselves a considerable amount of time and money but also mitigate risk.