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Jake Keator
September 27, 2022

For physicians, maintaining high levels of professionalism and good behavior is essential. However, according to Medscape’s newest report, Physicians Behaving Badly, a larger percentage of physicians have showcased poor behavior online, inside, and outside the workplace.

Medscape’s report asked physicians several questions relating to their colleagues in order to create visible data to compare to its 2021 report of the same name. Overall, 44-percent of respondents said they had not seen any poor behavior in 2021. In comparison, only 38-percent said the same in 2022.

“People forget that COVID has made the physician workplace incredibly stressful,” Drew Ramsey, M.D. told Medscape. “Physicians are struggling with their mental health, and it’s even harder for women doctors, who have also faced years of discrimination at work.”

Locations for bad behavior

Below is a summary of locations where respondents witnessed bad physician behavior:

Inside the workplace: 41-percent (35-percent in 2021)

Outside the workplace: 26-percent (26-percent in 2021)

On social media: 30-percent (26-percent in 2021)

On average, respondents reported 7.0 instances of witness poor behavior in the past five years, up from 6.0 in 2021. The most reported instance in this latest report was bullying or harassing clinical staff. 30-percent of respondents noted they had seen this occurrence recently, while 86-percent said they had seen it at least once in the past five years. Similarly, mocking, or disparaging patients without their knowledge was also ranked highly, with 30-percent of respondents having seen this occurrence recently and 82-percent in the past five years.

When polled on the age of physicians who most commonly misbehave, 51-percent of respondents noted physicians between the ages of 40-49. Physicians older than age 60 (20-percent) and younger than age 30 (14-percent) were the least reported groups.

Reasons behind the behavior

Personal arrogance (56-percent) was the most listed reasoning behind poor physician behavior. Other higher-ranking reasons included:

Personal issues (not work related): 52%

Changing times and acceptance of more casual behavior: 50%

Job-related stress: 46%

“(Ego issues) should point our medical educators to where we need help in the field,” Ramsey said. “It speaks to the profound insecurity many physicians feel today, battling electronic medical records and administrators and RVU’s, among everyone else.”

Poor behavior on social media

Physicians are quickly becoming more open to utilizing social media for professional purposes on top of already existing personal profiles. However, the use of personal profiles opens the door to noticeable poor behavior.

The top five most reported social media errors are listed below:

Making inappropriate comments about friends, themselves, politics: 81%

Posting inappropriate pictures unrelated to patients: 36%

Posting inappropriate comments about patients: 31%

Posting sexually suggestive material: 16%

Posting inappropriate pictures of patients: 15%

Facebook (53-percent) was the most common platform for physician poor behavior.

Overall Standards

66-percent of 2022 report respondents believe physicians should be held to higher behavior standards than the traditional public, down from 77-percent in 2021. This decrease also coincides with changes regarding thoughts on societal expectations for behavior.

In 2022, 73-percent of respondents believed societies expectations for physicians inside the workplace are appropriate, a slight drop from 75-percent in 2021. Only 50-percent agreed that expectations outside of the workplace were acceptable.

At PE GI Solutions our partnered practices, centers, and physicians remain dedicated to providing high quality patient care. As an organization we strive to find new and innovative ways to continue to improve outcomes and uphold the high levels of professionalism our patients demand of our physicians.

To view the report in full, click here.

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