When you feel bad physically—especially if your symptoms worry you—you
might not be your normal self when you visit the doctor. In fact, patient
rudeness is quite common in doctor’s offices and hospitals, and
many healthcare professionals even expect it as an occupational hazard.
But can being rude to your doctor actually increase your risk of getting
In theory, being rude shouldn’t affect the quality of your treatment.
In reality, however, it might.
A recent trial on
The Impact of Rudeness on Medical Team Performance produced some eye-opening results. According to the report: “Rudeness
had adverse consequences on diagnostic and procedural performance of members
of the NICU medical teams. Information-sharing mediated the adverse effect
of rudeness on diagnostic performance, and help-seeking mediated the effect
of rudeness on procedural performance.” In plain English, when patients
were rude to their health professionals, mistakes or reduced-quality treatment
became more probable.
This information doesn’t suggest that healthcare professionals reduce
the quality of their care on purpose. Doctors take an oath to “first
do no harm.” Most physicians make an honest attempt to provide the
same quality of treatment to all their patients, regardless of their temperament.
However, doctors are also human, and humans typically perform more poorly
when they are treated poorly. In fact, rude behavior can cause a distraction,
which as we detailed
in an earlier article about interruptions and medical errors, may contribute to medical error.
From a purely practical standpoint, you’re more likely to receive
the best care if you can control your emotions and refrain from taking
aim at your doctor. Seasoned medical professionals should always strive
to compensate for the negative emotions of their patients.
Patient rudeness is never justification for malpractice. If you believe
you have suffered harm from a doctor’s care for any reason, contact our
D.C. medical malpractice attorneys for a free consultation.