Disruptive Physician Behavior


Aggressive and disruptive physician behavior is prevalent and can have serious consequences and risks.

An American College of Physician Executives survey showed 95% of physician executives responding had regularly encountered disturbing, disruptive, and potentially dangerous behaviors from physicians.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices found in their survey that 87% percent of nurses reported physicians who were reluctant or refused to answer questions or return calls, 74% percent experienced condescending or demeaning comments or insults, 26% had objects thrown at them, and 42% said physicians shamed, humiliated, or spread malicious rumors about them.

With an aging physician population experiencing burnout, stress and dysfunction from a variety of factors, disruptive conduct is on the rise. Medical staff must be educated, committed and empowered to respond to disruptive conduct effectively and lawfully.

What are some of the consequences and risks of physician disruptive behavior?

Impact on Patient Care:

  • • Increased Mortality
  • • Medical Errors / Medication Administration Errors
  • • Adverse Events
  • • Decreased Quality of Care
  • • Increased likelihood of litigation

Impact on Work Environment:

  • • Potential for violence
  • • Legal exposure
  • • Tarnished public image
  • • Increased turnover / team breakdown
  • • Decreased communication / Increased tension and hostility
  • • Distrust of leaders

Impact on Staff:

  • • Fear, confusion and uncertainty
  • • Apathy and burnout
  • • Hurt feelings / Low Morale
  • • High turnover rates
  • • Desire for revenge

Our 3-person presentation team will illuminate how disruptive physician behavior manifests, causes and consequences, how to prevent and respond to such conduct effectively and lawfully.

Using our “Theater of the Living Hypotheticals” format, professional actors/facilitators bring issues to life with performances of powerful, realistic scenarios depicting key issues and driving home key learning points followed by interactive discussion.



1-2 hours (at client discretion)


(3-person presentation team includes one of the Nossaman LLP attorneys below)

Carlo Coppo is a healthcare attorney and trial lawyer with 53 years of practice and expertise in the areas of healthcare litigation, the defense of lawsuits initiated by disciplined physicians against hospitals, hospital boards, medical executive committees, and members of peer review committees, representation of physicians and healthcare professionals before California licensing boards, and extensive experience as a Hearing Officer and advisor to governing boards in medical staff peer review judicial review proceedings.

David Balfour is a healthcare attorney whose primary area of practice is in defending physicians and other healthcare licensees in investigations and prosecutions by licensing boards. He also represents medical staffs and physicians engaged in the peer review process.

Kit Goldman and Memo Mendez of WTN are nationally acclaimed trainers, facilitators and experts on human and legal issues in the workplace, as well as professional actors. Their unique “edutainment” methodology harnesses the power of entertainment to educate on dozens of workplace topics, achieving unsurpassed levels of engagement and retention. They have appeared frequently as workplace experts in the media. Currently, Goldman and Mendez are collaborating with leading CA health care attorneys on programs for physicians and medical staff services on Cultural Competence, Physician Well Being, Addiction, Disruptive Behavior, Intervention and Peer Review.



  • • Identify and illustrate types of disruptive behavior
  • • Educate re: the causes, consequences and risks of such behavior
  • • Illustrate and deconstruct the impact on patients, staff and the institution using interactive “Living Hypotheticals” performed by professional actors/facilitators
  • • Provide the awareness, tools and knowledge to proactively prevent escalation and to respond effectively and lawfully to disruptive behavior
  • • Empower staff to fulfill their duty to ensure quality patient care through the peer-review process
  • • Enlighten staff re: the institutional costs of physician disciplinary hearings arising out of unaddressed disruptive physician behavior.


SAMPLE CONTENT (may include but NOT limited to)

  • • Examples and definitions: passive-aggressive and aggressive disruptive behavior
  • • Impact on patients, staff and the institution
  • • The “Bermuda Triangle” of liability
  • • Costs of unaddressed disruptive behavior
  • • Case law / case studies
  • • The potential for violence
  • • The gender factor
  • • Peer review vs. Discipline
  • • Disruption of the peer review process
  • • Corrective action
  • • TJC Leadership Standard LD.03.01.01
  • • TJC Elements of Performance 4 and 5
  • • Medical Staff responsibility / Duty to Act
  • • Intervention / rehabilitation