How Can Disruptive Behavior Be Harmful?

Kevin Stewart, MB, FRCP; Medical Director, Winchester Hospital, UK; Health Foundation/IHI Quality Improvement Fellow

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Describe how disruptive behavior can lead to patient harm.
  • Discuss the importance of responding to disruptive behavior in health care.
  • Determine the steps you would take if you experienced or witnessed disruptive behavior in your local health care setting.
Description: Physician Kevin Stewart explains how he accidentally hurt a patient when he was trying to avoid a confrontation with his foul-tempered supervisor.  He offers advice for people who find themselves on the receiving end of disrespectful behavior.​

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think health care professionals may behave disrespectfully toward their colleagues?
  2. Come up with two ideas for how to eliminate disruptive behavior.
  3. Have you ever had a controlling boss? How did you deal with it?
  4. Pretend you are a resident in a local hospital and you witness a senior physician yelling at a nurse. What steps would you take to address the situation?
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