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Rude doctors “threaten patient safety”

3 August 2010

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Doctors who are rude to colleagues could pose a threat to patient safety and quality of care, a medical defence union has warned, following the publication of a BMJ article claiming that rudeness can distract medical teams and draw their attention away from crucial tasks.

While acknowleding that the day-to-day stresses of modern medical practice can easily lay the foundations of a situation where a doctor may cause offence, the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) has warned doctors about the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with their fellow workers.

The BMJ editorial claims that as well as causing upset to a colleague, incivility can affect patient safety, saying that “a series of studies has shown that being the victim of rudeness can impair cognitive skills.”
Dr John Holden, a senior medical adviser at MDDUS, said:  “Doctors might not realise that something as basic as being rude to a colleague could ultimately harm the care of a patient.
“Doctors must at all times be mindful of the overriding duty of a doctor – as expressed by the GMC – to make the care of their patients their first concern.
“Consequently, any circumstance that may impair that duty – such as a poor relation with a colleague – is to be avoided.”


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