1 In 4 Doctors Mistreated By Patients: Survey

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According to a new study, about one-quarter of hospital doctors are abused by patients, visitors, or other doctors at work, and female doctors are nearly twice as likely as male doctors to be abused. 

Dr. Mickey Trockel, a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine and director of Evidence-Based Innovation for the Stanford WellMD/WellPhD Center, said, “All health care team members share the obligation to mitigate mistreatment.” 

“Those in leadership positions have a special need to establish standards and expectations of civility and respect from all members of the healthcare community, including patients and visitors,” Trockel said. 

In September/October 2020, researchers questioned slightly over 1,500 doctors on the clinical faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine, finding that 23.4% had experienced workplace maltreatment in the previous year. 

Patients and visitors were the primary perpetrators, as reported by nearly 17% of physicians and accounting for more than 70% of all occurrences, with other physicians following closely after. 

Verbal mistreatment was reported by 21.5 percent of respondents, followed by sexual harassment (5.4%) and physical intimidation or assault (5.2%). 

Women were twice as likely as males (15%) to report mistreatment, and they were twice as likely to experience sexual harassment and verbal abuse. 

According to the study’s authors, mistreatment differed by race, but the number of respondents was insufficient to analyze race/ethnicity fully. The findings were reported in JAMA Network Open on May 6th. 

Workplace abuse has been linked to higher burnout, lower job performance, and depression, according to the researchers, and studies of U.S. physicians over the previous decade have indicated job burnout rates of 40% to 60%. 

Dr. Susannah Rowe, an ophthalmologist at Boston Medical Center and head of the Wellness and Professional Vitality Council at Boston University Medical Group, said, “To address the issue of physician mistreatment, organizations must first identify its presence and then know where to look.” 



“With the strong link between mistreatment and workplace dissatisfaction and physician burnout,” Rowe said in a medical center news release, “health care organizations must take steps to address these issues as quickly as possible for the well-being of their staff, as well as their patients.” 

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