Disruptive physician

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In the medical drama, House, actor Hugh Laurie played a brilliant but obnoxious prima donna who would today be characterised as a disruptive physician.[1]

A disruptive physician is a physician whose obnoxious behaviour upsets patients or other staff. The American Medical Association defines this in their code of medical ethics as "personal conduct, whether verbal or physical, that negatively affects or that potentially may affect patient care".[2][3][4] These behaviors are also noted as causing adverse effects such as morale, focus and concentration, team work, collaboration and communication. Starting in 2009, The Joint Commission which accredits hospitals in the United States requires them to have a written code of conduct addressing this issue.[5] This code of conduct defines acceptable, disruptive, and unacceptable behavior in the workplace. Along with these definitions of behaviors the Joint Commission also wrote ways to manage these behaviors in order to fix them.

Simon Sebag Montefiore has reported a remarkable tendency for doctors to become tyrannical dictators.[6] Historical examples include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert M. Wachter (May 22, 2012), Gregory House M.D.: RIP, USA Today 
  2. ^ "The Disruptive Physician", Professionalism in Psychiatry, American Psychiatric Pub., 2011, pp. 131–152, ISBN 9781585623372 
  3. ^ "Physicians with Disruptive Behavior", AMA Code of Medical Ethics, American Medical Association, 2000 
  4. ^ Herbert Rakatansky (2000), Physicians With Disruptive Behavior (PDF), American Medical Association 
  5. ^ Laurie Tarkan (December 1, 2008), "Arrogant, Abusive and Disruptive — and a Doctor", New York Times 
  6. ^ Simon Sebag Montefiore (26 Sep 2013), "The doctators: why are so many tyrants medically qualified?", Evening Standard 

Further reading[edit]

  • Daniel Lang (1989), "The Disruptive Physician, The Sociopathic Physician", The Disabled Physician: Problem Solving Strategies for the Medical Staff (PDF), American Hospital Publishing, pp. 17–21 
  • Benzer DG, Miller MM (1995), "The Disruptive – Abusive Physician: A New Look at an Old Problem", Wisconsin Medical Journal (94): 455–459 
  • Pfifferling J-H (1997), "Managing the Unmanageable: The Disruptive Physician", Family Practice Management (Nov/Dec): 77–92