In a hospital somewhere in the world a nurse and a doctor are fighting. They disagree on how to care for a young girl. The family wants her to be at home, enjoying the time with her, not certain how long they have. The doctor wants to try out a treatment, possibly saving her life, but chances are low and pain is high. The fight escalated, bad words have been said, and the nurse is transferred to another hospital. She refused to go along with the orders of the doctor and advised the family to disagree with the treatment.
Hospitals are very hierarchical. Based on your medical profession you have a certain status. That gives you the power to make decisions. In this case, the nurse might have overstepped hierarchical boundaries. The nurse wasn’t committed to the team. She wasn’t a team player. If she would, she would have kept talking with the doctor instead of going behind his back. The doctor also wasn’t a team player, not trying to understand the reasoning of the nurse.
The action that was taken send a strong signal to the nurses in this hospital to never go against the orders of a doctor, regardless of the wishes of the patient. It solidified the hierarchical distance between professionals.
Team work needs to come into the focus of the medical profession. Healing a patient is not a solitary activity. Doctors need nurses and nurses need doctors. They have to work together for the good of the patient. Doctors should rely on nurses as the ones with more information about the patient and the families (non) medical related concerns. The nurses see mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children visit their sick loved ones. They see and hear their fears. It is often nurses who are left to explain to relatives treatments as doctors are perceived distant, unapproachable human beings. Nurses need to stand up to doctors. They need to know when they can discuss doctor’s decisions, and when time does not allow it. They need to support doctors in their decision-making process.