Top 5 Doctors’ Bad Behaviors

Saturday, June 16, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 4 Comments

Yes, even the doctors misbehave once in a while. According to a 2012 study on doctors’ bad behaviors published at the Journal of Hospital Medicine, many hospital doctors based in Chicago have admitted to unprofessional – and even legally questionable – behavior in the workplace. But what are the top 5 most common bad behaviors shown by doctors?

Doctors Bad Behaviors

Self-reported bad behaviors among doctors was much lower than observed bad behaviors among their peers.

Before I mention the five most common bad behaviors among doctors, I would like to ask fellow doctors (and even patients) to see if the statistics below are representative of doctors in the Philippines. By the way, self-reported bad behaviors among doctors was much lower than observed bad behaviors among their peers – it looks like doctors don’t want to admit to their mistakes, or they misinterpret their colleagues’ actions and judge too quickly.

Most Common Bad Behaviors Among Doctors

In the above study, doctors were made to answer a survey as honestly as possible. Doctors from different hospitals in the Chicago area were included in the survey. Here are the top 3 bad behaviors the doctors have admitted to having done – and if you’re a doctor, see if you’re guilty of any of these, too!

  • Badmouthing doctors in other fields of specialization occurred in four out of every ten doctors. Although I have personally observed this in our country, I was not aware that it was also a common phenomenon in other countries. Some doctors believe their field of specialization is much more difficult than others, giving them the (false) impression that they are better. 
  • Doctors admitted to “turfing” (known as “pambabarog” in the Philippines). Turfing, or passing on patients to other hospitals or departments to lighten one’s workload, was common among Chicago doctors, according to the study. About one out of every ten hospital-based doctors admitted to doing this – and about 12 percent admitted to gloating or celebrating after a successful attempt to “turf”, such as a hospital admission that did not push through. Read on and find out how many admit to falsifying hospital documents!
  • Doctors badmouth patients when they’re not around. In the study, three out of ten doctors admitted to doing this. During hospital rounds, I’ve had my own share of patients who gave me a hard time. I’ve also seen doctors give their patients nasty nicknames. It’s no surprise that 30 percent of the doctors in the study also admitted to badmouthing their patients.
  • About 6 to 7 percent of doctors admitted to falsifying hospital records. This may mean filling up blanks in forms despite not knowing the answer, especially when not enough questions were asked and the patient has already been discharged.
  • Two out of three doctors admitted to chatting with colleagues regarding personal topics, such as dinner dates, gossip, and other grievances about work. It is always best to save this for private chit-chat, instead of letting patients hear about why you hate this doctor or why you think this other doctor is a pervert.

It was funny that self-reported bad behaviors among doctors was much lower than observed bad behaviors among their peers. For example, about 7 out of ten doctors claim they have witnessed a colleague practice “turfing”, but only about 1 out of ten doctors admit to having done this.

If you’re a doctor, have you been guilty of any of the top 5 doctors’ bad behaviors listed above? Have you witnessed doctors do any of these? Share your stories below via a comment! Fin me on Twitter and Facebook, too, for more updates and articles. And feel free to share this post to doctors you know. Winking smile

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. Yes, It's happening here in the pHilippines. I had witnessed incidents like that. Rudeness to patients. and everytime I am witnessing such I look at the physician straight to their eyes till they realized their rudeness. Thanks for posting this... This will help rude physicians to come to their senses and also avoid turfing... :D

  2. I'm surprised there's no sexual delinquency on the list.

  3. Thanks, Mavic! Feel free to share with doctors you know!

    Itin, haha, perhaps it should be in the list of top 5 doctors' bad behaviors! Maybe it just wasn't in the doctors' survey. ;)

  4. naku there's more! im working in the Finance department of a hospital... and i've seen my staff forever afraid of getting in the way of doctors... crazy... i was a bit culture shocked when i entered this industry....