But sometimes, a stern approach is clearly necessary, Dr. Healy said. He told the story of a “superstar” surgeon who, according to the head operating room nurse, was telling offensive jokes in the OR, making his colleagues uncomfortable. Dr. Healy called the surgeon into his office and asked him whether this was true. When the answer was yes, he told him, “The surgical team is a family. As a family member, you cannot do this anymore because it really taints the entire family—and you professionally.”
Explore This IssueMarch 2016
Three months later, the nurse returned and said the situation had actually gotten worse. Dr. Healy told the surgeon that he had one month to get help or find another job. “He didn’t get help, and he had to leave—that was tough love,” Dr. Healy added. “I ask all of you to think about these issues. It may not be somebody telling offensive jokes. It may be something else. But you’ve got to deal with aberrant behavior. You must offer to get these people help, but you’ve got to be tough at the end of the day, because it reflects on the whole department and the profession.”
Thomas Collins is a freelance medical writer based in Florida.