Quarter of physicians report experiencing mistreatment at work

By Christopher Cheney, senior clinical care​ editor at HealthLeaders

Mistreatment of healthcare staff including workplace violence has become a pressing national issue. In March, American Hospital Association President and CEO Richard Pollack wrote a letter to Merrick Garland urging the U.S. attorney general to back legislation to protect healthcare workers from assault and intimidation. "For medical professionals, being assaulted or intimidated can no longer be tolerated as 'part of the job.' This unacceptable situation demands a federal response," Pollack wrote.

A survey of physicians found that clinicians had experienced mistreatment in the prior year, with patients and visitors the most common source of abuse, a new research article says.

The new research article, which was published by JAMA Network Open, reports the results of a survey of nearly 1,400 physicians conducted from September to October 2020. The study features several key data points:

  • 23.4% of physicians reported that they had experienced mistreatment in the prior year
  • Patients and visitors were the most common perpetrators of mistreatment, with 16.6% of physicians reporting mistreatment by patients and visitors
  • Other physicians were the second most common perpetrators of mistreatment, with 7.1% of survey respondents reporting mistreatment by physicians
  • Female physicians were more than twice as likely to report mistreatment than male physicians (31% versus 15%)
  • The most common forms of mistreatment were verbal abuse (reported by 21.5% of physicians), sexual harassment (5.4%), and physical intimidation or abuse (5.2%)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, experiencing any type of workplace mistreatment was linked to a 1.13-point increase in burnout
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, experiencing any type of mistreatment was linked to a 0.99-point drop in professional fulfillment
  • Workplace mistreatment was linked to 129% higher odds of moderate or greater intent to leave employment within two years

"These findings suggest that healthcare organizations should prioritize reducing workplace mistreatment," the study's co-authors wrote.

This story first appeared on HealthLeaders Media.


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Leadership Insight, Quality