Professional Behavior Within the Healthcare Team*Categories: Clinical Practice Adopted: Jan 2010 | Amended: Jul 2019
The North Carolina Medical Board (“the Board”) recognizes that the manner in which its licensees interact with others can significantly impact patient care.
The Board strongly urges its licensees to fulfill their obligations to maximize the safety of patient care by behaving in a manner that promotes both professional practice and a work environment that ensures high standards of care. Licensees should consider it their ethical duty to foster respect among all health care professionals as a means of ensuring good patient care.
Disruptive behavior is a style of interaction between licensees, hospital personnel, patients, family members, or others that interferes with patient care. Behaviors such as rude, loud, or offensive comments; sexual harassment or other inappropriate physical contact; and intimidation of staff, patients, and family members are commonly recognized as detrimental to patient care. The Board distinguishes disruptive behavior from: (1) constructive criticism that is offered in a professional manner with the aim of improving patient care; or (2) reasonably direct or blunt communication that may be appropriate to protect the health of a patient in urgent or emergency situations.
It has been the Board’s experience that disruptive behavior may be a marker for underlying concerns that can range from a lack of interpersonal skills to deeper problems, such as depression, work-related burnout, or substance use disorder. Licensees suffering such symptoms are encouraged to seek the support needed to help them regain their equilibrium.
Disruptive behavior by licensees may also constitute grounds for further inquiry by the Board to determine the potential underlying causes of such behavior. Additionally, such behavior may ultimately constitute grounds for Board discipline.
Finally, licensees, in their role as patient and peer advocates, are obligated to take appropriate action when observing disruptive behavior on the part of other licensees. The Board urges its licensees to support their hospital, practice, or other healthcare organization in their efforts to identify and manage disruptive behavior, by taking a role in the process of addressing behavior when appropriate.
*This position statement was formerly titled, “Collaborative care within the healthcare team.”