HealthDay News — According to a study published in Pediatrics, rude parents can rattle medical staff enough to compromise the quality of care their critically ill child receives.

Medical teams in a neonatal intensive care unit made worse decisions during simulated emergency scenarios if they had been treated rudely by an actress playing the role of an angry family member, the researchers found.

Exposure to rudeness helped explain about 40% of the variance in good medical decision-making between different teams in the study, coauthor Amir Erez, PhD, a professor with the University of Florida Warrington College of Business in Gainesville, told HealthDay

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The researchers also found that doctors and nurses could “inoculate” themselves against potential rudeness by taking part in computer training that decreased their emotional sensitivity. Writing a narrative about the rude event had no benefit on performance.

“Rudeness has robust, deleterious effects on the performance of medical teams. Moreover, exposure to rudeness debilitated the very collaborative mechanisms recognized as essential for patient care and safety,” the authors write. 

“Interventions focusing on teaching medical professionals to implicitly avoid cognitive distraction such as cognitive bias modification may offer a means to mitigate the adverse consequences of behaviors that, unfortunately, cannot be prevented.”


Riskin A, et al. “Rudeness And Medical Team Performance”. Pediatrics. 2017. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2305. [Epub ahead of print]

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