Bad Behavior in Healthcare

4733384-Reed-Hastings-Do-not-tolerate-brilliant-jerks-The-cost-to-teamwork-is-too-high.jpg Blog by Joe Babaian

What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

~ Cool Hand Luke

The current trial surrounding Theranos gives us pause to consider, how much “fake it until you make it” is ok? Looking also at you, OZY Media – perhaps they should have taken Ozymandias by Shelley a little more literally?

When I came across a quote from Reed Hastings of Netflix, it got me considering, it’s a great time to think about leadership in action and what we tolerate in the pursuit of our goals and vision.

We’ve discussed the definition of leadership, the qualities of a leader, even the ways leaders are grown. Sharing a positive outlook and always focusing on the kind, the brightest, and the visionary is our mantra. That’s how egalitarian community is built, one word at a time!

Most of us remember the fictional Dr. House. Brilliant, lifesaving, and very, very boorish. In the series, all of Dr. House’s bad behavior was overshadowed by his amazing successes and ability to run like a bull through a china shop while still saving the day. But we remember the series with rose-colored glasses. Here’s a quote from “The Medical Science of House, M.D.” by Andrew Holtz, reminding us that leadership is more than breaking rules and running on your gut:

In the episode “DNR” (1-09) he [Dr. House] saves a patient who had signed a DNR, a “do not resuscitate” order, and then dismisses the objections of his colleagues, declaring he wants to practice medicine, rather than debate ethical questions. However, ethics and medicine are inseparable. The goal of medicine is not simply to keep hearts beating and lungs pumping as long as possible; it is to serve the interests of the patient.

Wow. Read that twice if you like, I’ll wait. We can see how this applies to everything in healthcare from clinical treatment, employee relations, hospice, patient interaction, and research, to innovation and yes, social media.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 - Day 3

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 23: Dave McClure of 500 Startups speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 at Pier 70 on September 23, 2015 in San Francisco, California. McClure resigned from 500 Startups after revelations of sexual harassment were revealed. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

What about the current culture? We have work to do. Dave McClure, the ex-CEO of startup accelerator 500 Startups, resigned over allegations of “bad behavior” that is more properly called sexual harassment. Read about his fall in this comprehensive story by The Mercury News, The fall of 500 Startups CEO Dave McClure.

What’s particularly interesting is this powerful, one-time leader not only took a massive fall from grace, he issued what appeared, at first glance, to be a sincere apology. Or perhaps there was a little sorry-not-sorry going on? Sadly, Dave’s mea culpa on Medium was deleted: I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry. The key line from the deleted post? ““While I’d like to believe that I’m not a bad or evil person, regardless it’s clear that some of my past actions have hurt or offended several women,” he writes. “And I probably deserve to be called a creep.””

This week, let’s focus on all aspects of behavior in healthcare. What’s ideal and acceptable versus what crosses the line and hampers communication (or worse, creates a road block to communication).

This is a chat for everyone: current and future patients, doctors, researchers, innovators, social media mavens, blog artists, activists, and leaders. This isn’t a time to name names, but to name behaviors, understand the motivations behind them, and find ways to construct a path of positive leadership vs. accepting the “brilliant jerk” – whomever he/she may be.

Please join the #hcldr community of friends and peers as we work to make a difference, one idea and one action at a time. Join us on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 at 8:30pm Eastern as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: What types of bad behavior are the most damaging in healthcare? Examples?

  • T2: “Fake it until you make it” is how the scrappy succeed. Thoughts?

  • T3: How might we counter the trend of bad behavior in our arenas? Can success come from being a “nice” person/organization?

  • T4: How can empathetic behavior improve healthcare? Where is the impact greatest? Examples?


Resources for Further Study

Holtz, Andrew. The Medical Science of House, M.D.: The Facts Behind the Addictive Medical Drama. 1 edition. New York: Berkley, 2006.

Kendall, Marisa. “The Fall of 500 Startups CEO Dave McClure.” The Mercury News, July 9, 2017.

(Content Deleted) McClure, Dave. “I’m a Creep. I’m Sorry.” 500 Hats, July 1, 2017.

Photo Credit: Licensed under Quotefancy terms and Fair Use. Link:×2160/4733384-Reed-Hastings-Do-not-tolerate-brilliant-jerks-The-cost-to-teamwork-is-too-high.jpg

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