Imagine that you’re a somewhat to severely stressed-out doctor. Now you open your email program and you see this message: “I hope and expect that you will spend eternity in he**. You are an abusive, nasty, cheap person.” Now imagine that this happens a lot, relatively speaking; roughly 1 in every 20 email messages from patients are negative.
According to a new study from Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 3% of messages received from patients were unflattering at best, and many contained words of violent or hostile intent. “F**k” was the most frequently used expletive, but words like “shoot” and “kill” were frequently used. 609 physicians responded to the survey, roughly equally split between women and men.
The study included examples of ugly wording, such as “What a disappointment in your office and the bullsh*t I was told. I’ll be switching plans because this is sh*t!”CarePrecise has noted recent tightening of spam filters in physician group email systems, and we have identified one of the reasons as resulting from unprecedented pandemic-related spam from PPE hawkers. The pandemic has ratcheted up stress levels for people from all walks of like; none more than physicians and other clinicians. The study’s researchers suggested that “Health systems should be proactive in ensuring that the inbasket does not become a venue for physician abuse and cyberbullying. Posting reminders in EHR patient portals to use kind language when sending messages, applying filters for expletives or threatening words…” We can expect many providers’ walls to be raised just a bit higher if high levels of abuse from patients continues.