Although that’s not especially surprising, it’s interesting to note that that even though only about half of doctors reported witnessing disruptive behavior by other physicians, 88% of nurses said they had observed physicians acting out. That’s an enormous gap. Nearly every nurse said that physicians are sometimes bullies; only half of physicians agreed. It wasn’t even that physicians were treating their own with kid gloves: when asked about disruptive behavior by nurses, 73% of nurses said they’d witnessed it, compared with only 48% of physicians. Physicians aren’t physically isolated from bad behavior; they see the exact same misdeeds that nurses see. They just don’t register those misdeeds as problematic. The obvious explanation is that doctors simply have a much narrower — really, too narrow — concept of what constitutes disruptive or bullying behavior. We don’t know what bullying is, even when it’s right in front of our face.

*     *     *

Continue Reading

As for Tim Bates and his Facebook message promising to blackball a medical student, it seems that he too had a limited idea of what constituted bullying.

When The Toronto Star first asked about the threat, Dr Bates denied any wrongdoing and justified his behavior, claiming that he “may have been a little upset.” This time, however, even other physicians could tell that Dr Bates was in the wrong. Physicians throughout Ontario rallied at the student’s defense and told Dr Bates in no uncertain terms that he had gone too far. At long last, Dr Bates saw the error of his ways, and issued a mea culpa, finally admitting, “It was something I shouldn’t have said.”


  1. Boyle T. Ontario Medical Association executive resigns en masse. The Star. Published February 6, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2018.
  2. Boyle T. Ontario doctors ‘distressed’ over wave of bullying, infighting. The Star. Published February 27, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2018.
  3. Fnais N, Soobiah C, Chen MH, et al. Harassment and discrimination in medical training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acad Med. 2014;89(5):817-827.
  4. Rosenstein AH, O’Daniel M. A survey of the impact of disruptive behaviors and communication defects on patient safety. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2008;34(8):464-471.
  5. Paice E, Smith D. Bullying of trainee doctors is a patient safety issue. Clinical Teacher. 2009;6(1):13-17.
  6. Nielsen MB, Einarsen S. Outcomes of exposure to workplace bullying: a meta-analytic review. Work & Stress. 2012;26(4):309-322.
  7. Vartia MA-L. Consequences of workplace bullying with respect to the well-being of its targets and the observers of bullying. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2001;27(1):63-69.

This article originally appeared on Medical Bag