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Who dares tell me to place a used syringe in the proper bag? I will crush you like a tiny bug! M'wa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Times of India logoDecember 10, 2004 -- Today's Times of India carried a short unsigned piece, "Doctors, nurses clash at NRS hospital," about the fallout after a nurse pointed out to a junior physician that he had failed to place a used syringe in the proper receptacle at a local hospital. This "simple lesson in hospital hygiene" apparently motivated offended junior physicians to "start a fight" with the nurses. Police were reportedly called in to restore order.

The piece notes that the "humble" nurse (the piece appears to be using the quotes to convey the attitude of the offended physicians) "pointed out" to the physician that he ought to dispose of the syringe by placing it in the special bag the hospital maintained for that purpose. The physician "took umbrage at this simple warning," "refused to follow the rules and instead ridiculed the nurse and asked her to mind her own business." The "stunned" nursing staff then went to hospital authorities, noting that "junior doctors had been frequently flouting rules." Hospital officials arriving at the scene were "horrified to find a full-fledged slanging match between the nurses and junior doctors." They reportedly held meetings with representatives of the two sides to "demarcate responsibility on carrying and disposing syringes and other activities."

It is not clear exactly what those responsibilities now are, nor how a "police team" got involved, as reported in the item's first paragraph. The piece--which clearly reflects the nurses' perspective--might also have benefited from comment from both sides as to this apparent physician disruptive behavior, and from some context as to the extent of the problem in Indian hospitals. It also would have helped to cite research that shows how physician disruptive behavior drives nurses from the workforce and is a significant cause of the global nursing shortage. (Also see an inspiring editorial by American Journal of Nursing editor-in-chief Diana Mason on dealing with physician disruptive behavior.)

In a fitting coda to this most excellent story, one Times reader has posted the following comment to the story, which we quote exactly and in full:

Am a physician in US. Am very proud of the nurse who considered it her duty to educate the house-staff. From experience I know that nurses contribute tremedously to moulding us into fine physician. KEEP IT UP.

The Center salutes this reader, the Times for running the story, and any nurse who strives to protect patients and hospital staff by advocating for safe practice, even in the face of abusive behavior. Such advocacy also helps to strengthen the nursing profession.

See the December 10, 2004 Times of India's article "Doctors, nurses, clash at NRS Hospital."


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