Distressed Physicians

Who or What is a distressed physician?

The distressed physician typically exhibits a pattern of behavior characterized by one or more of the following actions.

  • Employs threatening or abusive language, directed at nurses, hospital personnel, or other physicians(e.g. belittling, berating, and/or threatening another individual).
  • Makes degrading or demeaning comments regarding patients, families, nurses, physicians, hospital personnel, or the hospital.
  • Uses profanity or other grossly offensive language while in a professional setting.
  • Utilizes threatening or intimidating physician contact.
  • Makes public or derogatory comments about the quality of care begin provided by other physicians nursing personnel or the hospital.
  • Writes inappropriate medical records entires concerning the quality of care being provided by the hospital or any other individual.
  • Imposes idiosyncratic requirements on ancillary staff which ave nothing to do wit better patient care, but serve only to burden staff with “special” techniques and procedures.

*Note that we are talking about a pattern of behavior that may or may not overlap a psychiatric diagnosis and/or other impairment sch as chemical dependence, major depression, or personality disorder.

When can the Oklahoma Health Professional Program (OHPP) help the Heath Professional and the referring agency?

  • A pattern of behavior has been established. The pattern should be clearly documented with examples and consequences to the hospital or clinic. The examples can be used to explore the problem with physician or PA and look for underlying triggers and issues that can be addressed. Typically, the clinician has little or no insight into the effect he or she has on others, or how often the behavior has been a problem. They are focused on clinical and/or system issues that are often very real and significant, but they are approaching these issues in a destructive and unhealthy way. If OHPP has no documentation of specific instances of distressed behavior, it is difficult to help the physician develop any insight into his/her effect on others.
  • How to document and refer. Proper documentation is crucial in helping OHPP reach a successful outcome, as well as for legal reasons. OHPP requires the following information:
  1. Problem behaviors with as many examples of specific incidents as possible.
  2. What is the disciplinary protocol and where is the physician in that process? (e.g. verbal warning, written warning, etc.)
  3. Time frame for corrective action.
  4. Consequences of noncompliance with contract, either reoccurrence of behavior or lack of follow through with treatment recommendations.
  5. Perceived need for physician to sign formal monitoring contract with OHPP.

The referral source is also encouraged to do the following:

Require the Health Professional to sign a release of information form to allow OHPP to communicate basic findings and recommendations back to the referral source.and set a time limit for the evaluation to occur.

If you have questions about distressed behavior or any of the information covered here please call our office at 405-601-2536.
Gratitude at Work

Counting your blessings will benefit yourself and your organization.

By Charles D. Kerns, PhD, MBA

Gratitude is not just a “feel good” emotion when it comes to organizational life. It can benefit an organization in many ways. When an employee believes his or her superiors are grateful for his or her work, the employee will benefit by having an improved sense of worth to the organization. This improved sense of worth can lead to performance improvement, thereby benefiting the organization…. Read More