Unhealthy Work Behaviors Encourage Medical Errors

20171230_145109-1-225x300Patient safety advocates know that focusing on hand hygiene and enhancing communication among team members can go a long way in reducing the risk of medical errors. However, many hospitals neglect other factors that can also increase the risk of errors. Many of these factors are never discussed in hospitals or medical settings, but they do have the potential to impact performance, and adversely affect patient safety.

A toxic hospital work environment, for instance, can actually promote medical errors. According to a recent survey of more than 1000 physicians, five common behaviors in many medical settings can increase the risk of medical errors.


Far too few hospitals focus their prevention initiatives on staff members who are prone to laziness, or show lack of initiative. However, more than 60% of the respondents in the survey said that such slackers were commonly found in their hospitals. When laziness is unaddressed, it becomes the norm in the workplace and gives rise to the belief that such laziness or lack of initiative is acceptable. Needless to stay, staff members who fail to take on their share of responsibility or take unnecessary breaks frequently could actually impact patient safety.

Managerial Weakness

Managerial weakness is another factor that can impact patient safety. Weak managers, who fail to hold subordinates responsible and accountable, contribute to an unhealthy work atmosphere in which errors are acceptable. Subordinates are much more likely to indulge in unsafe, and possibly dangerous, practices when they know that these practices or behaviors will not be addressed by their superiors.

Arrogant Doctors

Arrogant doctors who are not responsive or not available for calls are another major threat to patient safety. Very often, these problems are simply left unaddressed. In fact, in the survey, 70% of the respondents said that such toxic behavior by physicians was not addressed or never addressed in their hospital.

Lack of Teamwork

A team that works together comfortably and efficiently is much less likely to make errors. However, problems can appear when there are negative workplace behaviors that affect teamwork and the ability to work together in a group. Gossiping, rumormongering, and backbiting are all toxic practices that can be seen in any hospital and medical setting, but you will see very few initiatives to tackle these.


Lastly, the survey found that managers who played favorites when it came to handing out assignments or showed partiality towards some employees in any form, contributed to a toxic atmosphere. In an environment like this, subordinates may suffer from lack of morale and become dissatisfied with their jobs. This, in turn, directly affects patient safety.

These are all toxic behaviors that are prevalent in any medical setting, and, for that matter, in any workplace. Hospitals that focus intensively on sterilization, hand hygiene, and other essential practices also need to focus on whether a harmful workplace environment is placing patients at risk.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP represent the families of persons who have suffered wrongful death as a result of medical negligence across Indiana. Our staff and attorneys work together to find a resolution to your personal injury claim. Contact our office right away.