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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Margaret Hegge


physican and patient, nurse attitudes, physican conduct of life, patient care


Disruptive behavior can potentially exist in any workplace; however, when it occurs in healthcare the stakes are elevated. Communication breakdown has been identified as a factor that contributes to medical errors and disruptive behavior is a potential cause of communication breakdown. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimated in 1997 that in the United States there were between 44,000 and 98,000 patient deaths due to medical errors (Kohn, Corrigan, & Donaldson, 2000). This survey was designed to specifically address disruptive physician behavior in the workplace and nurses' perceptions of its effects on patient safety.
The survey was distributed to 400 nurses at a 545 bed, acute care facility in the upper Midwest. Nursing departments within the facility which employee more than five nurses were eligible to participate in the survey. The survey and a cover letter were mailed to the homes of the nurses who were randomly selected to participate. Surveys from 83 nurses were returned and utilized in this study.
More than 96% of the respondents had witnessed disruptive physician behavior in a healthcare facility. Nearly 47% reported witnessing this behavior at least 1 to 2 times per month and just over 13% reported witnessing disruptive physician behavior daily or weekly. Respondents reported that disruptive physician behavior resulted in the following seldom to consistently; (a) stress, 99%; (b) frustration, 96%; (c) loss of concentration, 94%; (d) reduced team collaboration, 94%; (e) incomplete transfers of pertinent information, 95%; (Q reduced communication, 98%; and (g) impaired nurse-physician relationships, 93%. Roughly 93% of respondents believed there was a link from seldom up to consistently between disruptive physician behavior and patient safety. More than 1/3 of the respondents (37%) reported they were aware of a specific adverse event which occurred as a result of disruptive physician behavior. Disruptive physician behavior was believed to be linked to medical errors by 95% of the respondents, to adverse patient events by nearly 93% of the respondents, and quality of care by 96% of the respondents. All respondents believed that disruptive physician behavior had some degree of impact on patient safety. Additionally almost 61% of the respondents believed there was a link seldom up to consistently between disruptive physician behavior and patient mortality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Physician and patient
Nurses -- Attitudes
Physicians -- Conduct of life
Patients -- Care



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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