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Bullying in medicine

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1314

The tears ran down my face, hidden by my surgical mask. My consultant continued relentlessly, “Why can't you do this? It really isn't hard. Are you stupid? Can't you see how to help me?”

Some doctors should ask themselves whether they are part of the caring profession

I hated myself for crying. I avoided her eyes so she couldn't see my tears and the deep hurt in my eyes, but I couldn't speak without betraying myself. I managed a few one word answers. The criticism continued, if not with words, then with sighs and angry tutting.

The atmosphere in the operating theatre was tense. The staff had all seen this happen many times before—hard working, pleasant trainees reduced to non-functioning wrecks in the space of an operation. I looked helplessly at the scrub nurse, another trainee. She saw my distress immediately and gave me a supporting glance. But she too was suffering. “No, not that one. …

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