Doctor Mistreats Staff

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about rude mean boss:

I work in a doctor’s office and have been here for 21 years. I was hired one month before this doctor, who treats our office staff badly, joined the practice, which made 3 doctors. He has been rude, hateful and just a bully for the entire time. When he first came, the senior doctor, which has since retired, had to talk with him about mistreating his office staff, which consisted of 3 employees at that time. The other doctor has never mistreated any office employee; he’s, is a sweetheart, and was at the office before the bad doctor came. Our office has since grown to 11 employees, one of which is a male. The bad doctor has yelled at everyone and put everyone down except the male employee, which all of the girls think the world of. When you ask this doctor a question or try to discuss a problem with him, he will not listen to you. He does not go the extent of calling names, but will talk down to you, in his hateful, loud voice, and tell you “you do not know what you are doing or talking about.”

This sometimes is done in front of the other co-workers; it’s very embarrassing and hurtful, not that he has not done the same to them. In a doctor’s office there are many times a patient will ask a question, in person or call over the phone. Nine times out of 10, when you go up to him for an answer, he will ask, “WHAT DO YOU NEED?” When the girls ask their question, of course he will answer, but when he finishes with them, they go back to their desk with tears, over a simple question that they are not authorized to answer.

It’s getting to the point, the girls will just leave him a note, and hope he will answer with another note and they will not have to have contact with him. We have a Nurse Practitioner and a Certified PA that rotate every other week in the office with one doctor. When one is in the office, the other is at the hospital helping that doctor in surgery, making rounds, etc. This rude doctor was so ugly to the Nurse Practitioner, who also is a sweetheart, that she had to leave and call her parents to talk with them so she could calm down.

This should not happen to any of us. We all need our jobs, and he knows this. He does not value us and feels he can treat us any way he wants. I only have four more years to work. I’M 58, but I hate this for the younger girls that are in the office that can’t afford to be out of work for one single day. We have talked with the good doctor, and he knows the rude doc mistreats us and the nurses and helpers at the hospital also. Butt for some reason, if the good doctor has talked with the rude one, he has kept that talk to himself or the talk did not work.I have watched this rude doctor get more unreasonable and go down hill for the last 21 years. The hospital administration sent him to anger management classes a few years ago, out of town, but even this has not helped. I honestly think he gets a thrill for the way he treats his employees and anyone he comes in contact with that might challenge him or just ask him a simple question. The office manager has talked with him also about how he talks down to her and she told him some employees came to her and do not like this either. The next day it was like nothing was said.

Most of the time he is nice to patients, but there have been times when he has been just as ugly to them as he is to us. When he talks with then and they ask a question that he thinks is stupid or challenges him, he raises his voice and is very rude to them also. Many of our patients are elderly and may not understand the first time something is told to them, and if he has to repeat, this ticks him off. I wish I could tell them that they do not have to put up with this and to find another doctor or switch to our, good doctor, but I can not.One of our nurses worked with him at the hospital and told us Friday that when he was in the operating room, mad and throwing trays, etc. they had a code word that they would announce over the intercom to warn the other nurses. I did not hear what they did when they heard this, but will ask on Monday. If they tried anything, apparently it did not work either.

We have talked with the, good the doctor, and told him when he is at the office and doctor bad comes over, most of the time at the end of the day, he never shows his anger with anyone, it is just when the good doctor is not around. The good doctor’s wife is a nurse at the hospital, but is on medical leave now because of a surgery. She is helping out in the office until she can get back to work. He does not mistreat anyone in front of her also. That does not mean he does not mistreat employees when she is in the building, just out of her hearing. She does not care for him either. On the days he is scheduled to be in the office, it is so tense, we feel like we have to walk on eggshells.We have all talked with our husbands, for years about this, and they want to meet with him, and discuss why he is mistreating all of us. We do not feel this would go well and will not allow this to happen.

We, as a group, have not talked with him because we are in fear of our jobs and if we expressed what we feel, he will let us go and will not care. I’ve described just a few examples of how he acts. Please help us and let us know if there is anything we can do to make our office a better place to work. We are a group of girls that are very close and just need help with this situation. Thanks.

Signed, Hopeful

Dear Hopeful:

After 21 years of bully incivility, how can you sign your lengthy description as “hopeful”? I see little to no hope. You 10 women in the office staff must bite your tongues and swallow hard. You have put up with the doctor’s rudeness for years and you can tell those who have been there less time than you have that they too can learn to take it. How do you like that advice? If you don’t like it, I understand. You have complained to each other, the good doctor, the office manager, your husbands, and who knows whom else, but it has not shut up this rude doctor. I would like to think that there is some hope for you, but although we workplace doctors have advised several thousands of those who have written about sorry situations, we can’t work miracles. Our advice hinges on those who have written us, who are frustrated and bullied, being angry enough that they are determined not to take it any more.

That said, Hopeful, here is why I can’t be hopeful:

· Any action that challenges this rude doctor puts you at risk.

· This rude doctor has survived criticism of his rude behavior for 21 years.

· You are not members of a union, and although you get along and like each other, it is doubtful that you will stick together enough to really force this rude doc to change.

· Your work situation is not the kind in which you can confront the rude doctor when patients are present. · You have little evidence to prove his incivility other than your collective witness.

· You have not kept a log of instances of his bullying incivility. However, since your good heart and hope for yourself and your coworkers has been strong enough to write us, here are several suggestions to consider. Some might strike you as reasonable and others as not appropriate:

· Meet with your office manager and if possible enlist her support for some of the suggested acts below.

· Informally agree as a staff to log the rude doctor’s outbursts and incivility. Note what appears to precipitate his displeasure, tone he uses, to whom this is directed, witnesses, and as much as possible the actual language he uses. · Consult with the hospital and legal department if you might install video cameras within your office complex, of course not in doctor’s examining rooms. The very presence of cameras might temper his temper.

· If that is not legally approved, some individuals might wish to carry a tape recorder within a pocket that they could flip on whenever within contact with the rude doctor.  In light of the log and a history of recalling past instances of encounters with the rude doc (such as you have described in your query), prepare a written statement of complaint about this doctor. If all of you and hopefully the Office Manager will sign it, this should be a mandate for change. You might have a representative speak with Human Resources in the hospital about how this statement might be most effective. But I think the good standing of a doctor in the hospital in which he currently works is important. The hospital administration should not want a doctor who behaves badly within its premises as you have described yelling and throwing things, and your documented log should bolster what an administrator and its board might do; hopefully, if you will still have faith in that word, hopefully the hospital management will do more than again send him to anger management.

· Prepare a list of dos and don’ts that you want for communication within your office. This could be for all, not just for the doctor. It could be a way to promote clarity, accuracy, civility and respect. If the staff and Office Manager sign on to this, post it and distribute it to all the doctors.

· Bring in an outside consultant to work with your office and total staff on a team-building program. This kind of effort can focus on the bottom line, cost effectiveness, patient satisfaction, and cooperation.

In one hospital in our area, I was told, the nursing staff came up with a creative response to a bully doctor who objected when they proposed getting time off to take an assertiveness short course. The doctor objected and said, “My girls don’t need assertiveness. They are marshmallows.” The next day, the nurses wore a card with a marshmallow glued on it and the words, “Your Marshmallows are going to assertiveness class.” I did not see this but it was told as fact.

Whether fact or faction, I think if your staff huddles on this matter, it will come up with an answer that is superior to sucking in their guts and biting their tongues. Work is hard enough without incivility. You are in the helping profession and that should be a joy, if and when you act in ways to make my signature sentence more fact than fiction: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden