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Hospital conduct leads to reduced patient safety and medical malpractice lawsuits

In a recent medical malpractice lawsuit, a birth injury that was allegedly caused by a nurse-doctor communication breakdown yielded a $1.2 million settlement. Nurses were concerned that the birth was taking too long, but were hesitant to consult the doctor about these fears due to his reputation of angry responses to perceived criticism. The infant developed cerebral palsy.

Physicians too commonly react harshly to instances where they feel bothered by the nursing staff, such as late-night clarification requests, difficulties with procedures, changes in patient condition and more. The negative consequences of verbal abuse or disruption in hospitals are significant; reduced communication, team collaboration, information transfer and concentration are all reported as responses to disruptive behavior. Patient safety is compromised in many ways by these reported breakdowns. Medical errors increase in disruptive or abusive situations and the quality of care decreases. Patient mortality increases with these outbursts. Medication errors have also been caused by verbally abusive hospital staff relations.

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Teamwork failures are a major porblem caused by abusive behavior in hospitals. Failure to diagnose patients, carry out an established protocol or develop a treatment plan for patient care are all negative effects. Additionally, prioritization of caregiver tasks for the patient fails, and it becomes more difficult to cross-monitor the actions of colleagues.

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