Thursday, 18 September 2014

Disruptive behaviour among physicians; a few bad apples or the whole barrel?

I am reviewing the literature on disruptive behaviour among physicians, and the Leape et al (2012) article stands out as one worth reading [Acad Med. 2012;87:845–852. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318258338d]

Some of their conclusions are worth repeating;
"We believe, however, that the fundamental cause of our slow progress is not lack of know-how or resources but a dysfunctional culture that resists change. Central to this culture is a physician ethos that favors individual privilege and autonomy—values that can lead to disrespectful behavior."

"Students and residents suffer from disrespectful treatment. “Education by humiliation” has long been a tradition in medical education and still persists."

While other authors in the field are a bit too focused on repeat offenders (which is a worthy topic), Leape et al provide a cogent series of arguments that should force us to look at the system issues that contribute doc's behaving badly.

The implications for patient safety come screaming out at us......

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Why do surgery residents want to leave their programmes?

An interesting US study [JAMA Surg. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.935] looking at the reasons why general surgery residents want to leave their programmes reveals how more than half seriously consider leaving the program. Notable among the reasons was an undesirable future lifestyle, which chimes with the research on burnout and work-home conflict. Also, women were more likely to report wanting to leave. Factors most often cited that kept residents from leaving were support from family or significant others (65.0%), support from other residents (63.5%), and perception of being better rested (58.9%). Ultimately, the high percentage of residents who express a desire to leave should prompt us to consider how we can rethink residency training. The authors didn’t measure patient outcomes, but one wonders whether those who want to leave treat patients differently?

Sunday, 20 July 2014

guides for new docs- what does it say about the culture of medicine?

The BMJ guide for newly qualified doctors is well written and packed with useful information.
It can be downloaded at
However, if we step back and take a more panoramic view, does it tell us something more interesting about the culture of medicine and the values that it represents?
The guide it titled 'You will Survive', and page 2 starts with the sentence "The first day will always be frightening says junior doctor......."
The overall tone of the guide is that new doctors are going to feel out of their depth and under great levels of stress. The interesting question is to what degree the tone of the guide reinforces the notion that feeling overwhelmed should be considered normal. Preparing doctors to accept that being stressed is the norm and that feeling terrified is acceptable makes it less likely that they will ever question whether healthcare can be delivered in a radically different way.
It's obvious that guide is useful, but does it get the individuals to focus on themselves rather than the system they inhabit?

Thursday, 3 July 2014

What kind of doctors have difficulty asking for help?

Doctors who male, older or suffering from addictions have greater difficulties when asking for help from a Physicians’ Health Program. Very interesting study from a team from Barcelona.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Greater professional empathy leads to higher agreement about decisions made in the consultation

Interesting study about empathy in the consultation process.  See the article at
In the study, empathic responses to statements of challenge were found to be a strong predictor of agreement and resulted in both parties reporting and agreeing on more decisions. 
In particular, I liked the fact that empathy can be communicated by simply acknowledging the other. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

The inevitability of physician burnout: Implications for interventions

For physicians, burnout is the inevitable consequence of the way that medical education is organised and the subsequent maladaptive behaviours that are reinforced in healthcare organisations via the hidden curriculum. Thus, burnout is an important indicator of how the organisation itself is functioning. I have written a paper about the issue;
A central theme of paper is the degree to which the organisational systems are responsible for the disconnect between performance and physician health. Healthcare pays considerable ‘lip-service’ to systems approaches, but in practice it valorises the role of the individual physician in terms of both success and failure. Thus, this contradiction needs to be addressed.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Duty hours of residents don’t seem to make a systematic difference!!

It’s hard not reach this conclusion after reading the 2011 review concerning Patient Safety, Resident Education and Resident Well-Being Following Implementation of the 2003 ACGME Duty Hour Rules [J Gen Intern Med 26(8):907–19]. The authors warn us about comparing apples with oranges but the lack of any overall pattern regarding the impact on patients and residents is striking. For example, medical and surgical complications were interesting, with some improving and others worsening. The authors try to explain such differences as a product of less exhausted residents or worse continuity of care etc...As noted by the authors, the greatest limitation of the review is that conclusions rest upon studies demonstrating association, not causality. The authors collate a considerable amount of information, but the review (as acknowledged by the authors) doesn’t succeed in communicating the context.