July 9th, 2014

Bullied British doctors


British physicians-in-training endure a high level of abuse and bullying.

The General Medical Council (GMC) is the UK agency that license, registers and regulates physicians in the name of serving public safety. The British Medical Association (BMA) is the trade association with physicians as members.

A December 2013 GMC survey of bullying was completed by 54,000 physicians. Overall, 13% claimed to have been victims of bullying; 20% are witnesses to the bullying of others [Note the 2014 U.S. witnessing rate was 21%]. Nearly half of those who reported being bullied were in training. 27% were undermined by a senior physician in a consulting or training role.

Also according to the 2013 study, patient safety was affected by the bullying. Only 5.2% raised concerns about patient safety during their training. By the time the physician is in practice, post-training, the rate drops to 0.4%. It seems the only time doctors connect bullying and abuse to negatively impacting patient safety is when they are just beginning their careers with fresh eyes. Once in place as a professional, the link is ignored.

Both BMA and GMC spokespersons agreed that listening to young doctors working on the front lines is important. In the early stages of their careers, they are most likely to be most sensitive to the safety of patients.

In the U.S. in 2009, JCAHO, the hospital accreditation trade group connected the dots between lateral violence and bullying with threats to patient safety. It issued its “Culture of Safety” standards to be met by all hospitals. But hospitals added very little new to existing policies that have never adequately discouraged bullying and psychological violence in the health care setting.

Back to Britain. In a much smaller survey (of 75 doctors) conducted by the BMA, doctors turned on the patients and complained about them as perpetrators. Over half reported being bullied by a patient at work (though no exact figure could be found, none was provided). Most surveyed physicians said they reported bullying incidents of a doctor by a patient. And the vast majority of doctors said more must be done.

If only they could practice medicine without those bothersome patients! Let me suggest that in the sample of 75 docs were many of the senior docs who had tormented or undermined junior trainees in 2013 and were shown to not care any longer about patient safety in their established practices.

Finally, as the author of so many studies that can be found at this website, I deplore the publication of pie chart results without providing accompanying numbers.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 at 1:21 pm and is filed under Media About Bullying, Print: News, Blogs, Magazines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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