Bad manners in the Emergency Department: Incivility among doctors

Klingberg, Karsten; Gadelhak, Khaled; Jegerlehner, Sabrina; Brown, Adam D.; Exadaktylos, Aristomenis; Srivastava, David Shiva (2018). Bad manners in the Emergency Department: Incivility among doctors. PLoS ONE, 13(3), e0194933. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0194933

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Negative workplace behaviour, especially negative communication is a recognised problem in many organisations and is known to have serious impact on workplace performance, productivity and personal wellbeing. Emergency Departments (ED) can be high stress environments in which communication and perceptions of respect between physicians and other staff may underlie individual functioning. We conducted a study to estimate the influence of incivility (ICV) among physicians in the ED.

We developed an online survey to assess workplace incivility in the ED. We focussed on frequency, origin, reasons and situations where ICV was reported. To measure the levels and the potential influence of ICV on psychological safety, social stress and personal wellbeing we correlated our questionnaire to standard psychological scales. Statistical analysis included Students t-test, chi squared distribution and Pearson correlation coefficient.

We invited all seventy-seven ED physicians to participate in our survey. Among those that completed (n = 50, 65%) the survey, 9% of ED physicians reported frequent (1/week) and 38% occasional (1/month) incidents of ICV. 28% of physicians reported experiencing ICV once per quarter and 21% reported a frequency of only once per year, no physician reported ICV on a daily basis. Levels of ICV were significantly higher in interactions with specialists from outside then within the ED (p<0.01).

ICV was perceived particularly during critical situations. Our findings showed a significant correlation between internal (within the ED team) ICV and psychological safety. To ED physicians internal ICV was associated with lower levels of psychological safety (p<0.01). ICV displayed from sources outside the ED team was not associated with psychological safety, but we found a significant influence of external ICV on personal irritability and reduced wellbeing (p<0.01).

The incidence of incivility was high among the ED physicians. Although this was a small sample, the association between workplace ICV and psychological safety, personal irritation as well personal comfort suggests that ICV may be an important variable underlying ED team performance. These findings further underscore the need to foster a culture of respect and good communication between departments, as levels of ICV were highest with physicians from outside the ED. Future research would benefit from examining strategies to prevent and reduce ICV and identify reasons for personal variation in perception of ICV. During critical situations and in general collaboration with specialists, awareness of ICV and countermeasures are important to avoid decreased performance and negative impact on staff and patient.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > University Emergency Center

UniBE Contributor:

Jegerlehner, Sabrina, Exadaktylos, Aristomenis, Srivastava, David Shiva


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Public Library of Science




Romana Saredi

Date Deposited:

06 Feb 2019 09:18

Last Modified:

09 Jan 2023 02:14

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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