* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My resident on the current rotation is constantly talking about "hazing" the interns. Yesterday, he prank called one of my colleagues, disguising his voice and pretending to be from the nurse's station. "Ah, yes, doctor, one of your patients is not breathing." And then he started to laugh. He sent another intern on a wild goose chase for test results that didn't exist. He hid another intern's stethoscope in a closet for two hours.

Maybe it's just me, a little stressed about the work, and a little worried that one of these days I'm going to screw up and accidentally kill someone-- but, really, is this appropriate hospital behavior? Shouldn't the goal be to help each other help the patients and not distract us from getting our work done and have us on edge about whether a problem is serious or it's just a joke that the resident is playing on us?

It's hard enough to deal with the fake patients they sprinkle into the clinic and the fake codes they call-- rehearsals for the real thing, training exercises. But at least those are pedagogical. At least the way to deal with those is simply to do our job and assume everyone is real-- and so when we stumble into a training exercise it's no big deal, we just treat it like everything else.

But there's something different between a training exercise and a practical joke, or a prank. I don't want to be worried that my resident is trying to confuse me, or even sabotage me. I don't want to be looking for my stethoscope when I need it, or getting freaked out about a patient falling out of bed when everything's fine and he's just trying to make his own life more interesting.

I also don't want to be the kind of intern who goes to the chief and tells her this guy is "hazing" us and I wish he wouldn't. I don't want to be the tattletale or the crybaby, I don't want to turn something into a big deal if it isn't, I don't want to make enemies. But I also hope he gets the swine flu and can't come to work for two weeks.


  1. frankly immoral. not sure how to deal with it. do you have a trusted senior colleague?

  2. These "pranks" are putting actual patients in danger -- definitely go to a higher-up about this. Otherwise there could be serious legal ramifications if a patient is injured or even killed due to a "harmless prank".

    (I am not a lawyer, just paranoid.)

  3. Your story is a patient's nightmare; just thinking about such antics going on behind the scenes in a hospital sends shivers up my spine.

    Yes, "tattle" to the chief - I really don't think that's the right word for something both unethical and potentially dangerous to patients.

    Consider this, too: clearly your resident is need of guidance, and would benefit from some instruction about professional conduct and collegiality at this early stage of his career. By exposing his immature behavior, you would likely be doing him a favor.

  4. Hazing behavior is just plain wrong. Anyone pulling tricks like that is not mentally stable enough to be in a post of authority. You aren't in Jr. High any more - You need to report it.