The Title of “Disruptive Physician” Can Ruin Your Professional Career

Friday, February 5, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Nobody likes dealing with a nuisance, and disruptive physicians are no exception. Disruptive physicians threaten the morale of medical staff, the safe and orderly operation of a medical practice, as well as a threat to the safety of patients. They can also become expensive liabilities.

The Behavior That May Cause One to Earn the Title of “Disruptive Physician.”

Anything a physician does that interferes with the orderly conduct of business and patient care can be considered disruptive. Some specific examples of disruptive behavior include:

- Any type of demeaning behavior, such as name-calling. Verbal attacks that are personal, irrelevant to practice operation, and exceed the bounds of professional conduct;
- Profane or disrespectful language, including verbally demeaning, rude or insulting conduct;
- Inappropriate physical conduct, including pushing, shoving, hitting, making obscene gestures or throwing objects;
- Inappropriate comments made in patient medical records or other official documents, or attacking medical staff members, personnel or policies;

-  Comments that undermine a patient’s trust in other care givers of the medical facility, or comments that undermine a care-giver’s self confidence in treating patients;
-  Making sexual or racial jokes;
-  Physically touching another professional or staff member, especially those of the opposite sex;
-  Making sexually suggestive remarks, such as commenting on another person’s body parts;

-  Threatening violence to another;
-  Throwing equipment including medical supplies, charts or other objects; or
- Other disruptive, abusive or unprofessional behavior.

I previously wrote a blog on this topic and how to avoid being labeled a disruptive physician. To read this blog, click here.

What is the Impact and Consequence of Disruptive Behavior?

Disruptive behavior from a physician can lead to major consequences for both the physician and the employer. Lawsuits and liabilities can detract from a safe, cooperative and professional health care environment.

Disruptive behavior can negatively affect the quality of patient care and often disrupts or impedes the daily operations. It often creates an unprofessional or hostile work environment and adversely affects how others do their jobs. The community’s confidence in the facility to provide quality patient care, may be adversely affected.

Earning the title of a disruptive physician may lead to negative action against clinical privileges, action to drop the physician from insurance panels, consequential action by the state medical board or licensing authority, loss of specialty certification, termination of employment contract and other various consequences. To read a previous blog I wrote on a recent case of disruptive behavior by a physician, click here.

Pro Actively Educate Yourself to Avoid Being Labeled a "Disruptive Physician."

It’s wise to review your hospital’s or institution’s policies on disruptive behavior. Arming yourself with the knowledge necessary to avoid such accusations is imperative in protecting your reputation and career.

Always behave in a professional manner as someone can always observe your actions in the office or hospital. Once you have been labeled a disruptive physician, others may be more prone to scrutinizing you for anything you may do wrong. You will make yourself a target for possible false allegations and accusations. The health care industry is a demanding and stressful field. It’s understandable that potential outbursts can occur; but it’s imperative that you control yourself and don’t let them occur.


What are some proactive tactics physicians can take to prevent any outbursts or behavioral conduct that would be deemed as disruptive?

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with Investigations of Health Professionals and Providers.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, CRNAs, dentists, pharmacists, psychologists and other health providers in accusations of disruptive behavior, Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Medicare investigations, Medicaid investigations and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


Burger, Jim. “Doc Threatens Physician’s Assistant During Open Heart Surgery: I’m Going to Put Your Through the Wall.” Outpatient Surgery. (July 14, 2014). Web.

Grena, Porto. “Disruptive Clinician Behavior: A persistent threat to patient safety.” Patient Safety & Quality Health Care Newsletter. (March 26, 2006). Web.

Physicians with Disruptive Behavior.” American Medical Association. (January 27, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Disruptive physician, disruptive behavior by a physician, code of conduct, compliance monitoring, physician complaint, disruptive physician investigations, disruptive physician allegations, health care attorney, health law defense attorney, disruptive physician defense lawyer, health law, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
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