Physician Disruptive Behavior Can Lead to Staff Privileging Actions

In a recent survey by the American College of Physician Executives, 97% of respondents–doctors and nurses–reported behavior problems between doctors and nurses. This disruptive behavior, which over 55% of respondents reported happens at least monthly, included degrading comments or insults, inappropriate joking, and refusing to speak to or work with each other.

The startling prevalence of disruptive behavior is clearly a widespread problem. The American Medical Association issued an ethical opinion (Opinion 9.045) on disruptive behavior in 2000, which states that, “Personal conduct, whether verbal or physical, that negatively affects or that potentially may negatively affect patient care constitutes disruptive behavior.” The opinion goes on to recommend that every medical staff enact bylaw provisions that govern the appropriate interventions when disruptive behavior is identified.

The AMA also issued Opinion 9.05, which provides guidelines for fair and objective hearings whenever physician professional conduct is called into question.

Allegations of disruptive behavior can cause irreparable harm to staff privileges. Therefore, in any matter regarding physician behavior, it is essential that physicians retain experienced health care counsel at the earliest onset of any such issues/allegations to guide them through the events and to take proactive measures to avoid an adverse action against their privileges.

For more information, visit the HLP’s page on Staff Privilege and Licensing Matters. You may also be interested in reading Robert Iwrey, Esq.’s articles on behavioral policies or on the types of actions that can be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Attorney Iwrey can be contacted at or (248) 996-8510.

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