Doctors who are rude to colleagues could pose a threat to patient safety and quality of care, the MDDUS has said.
The day-to-day stresses of modern medical practice can easily lay the foundations of a situation where a doctor may cause offence.
The UK-wide medical defence organisation MDDUS is warning doctors about the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with their fellow workers. This follows a report in the BMJ which shows that rudeness can distract medical teams and draw their attention away from crucial tasks. This is a particular issue in confined spaces such as operating theatres where rudeness between colleagues can impair team members' thinking skills, the report says.
The BMJ editorial reported the results of a survey of 391 NHS operating theatre staff, in which two-thirds (66%) of respondents said they had been subject to aggressive behaviour from nurses and more than half (53%) from surgeons during the previous six months.
The editorial goes on to report that psychological research has shown that as well as causing upset to a colleague incivility can affect patient safety. Indeed the BMJ observes that "a series of studies has shown that being the victim of rudeness can impair cognitive skills".
Dr John Holden, a senior medical adviser at MDDUS says: "Doctors might not realise that something as basic as being rude to a colleague could ultimately harm the care of a patient.
"Doctors must at all times be mindful of the overriding duty of a doctor - as expressed by the GMC - to make the care of their patients their first concern.
"Consequently, any circumstance that may impair that duty – such as a poor relation with a colleague - is to be avoided".
Dr Holden adds: "Doctors should always strive to maintain good relationships with colleagues, and not simply as a means to patient safety as the GMC requires doctors to establish good relationships with colleagues - as well as with patients - as a fundamental matter of good medical practice. This duty includes acting as a positive role model with commitment to motivating and inspiring colleagues."