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Over 120 Complaints About Workplace Bullying Lodged By Housemen And Senior Doctors, Says MMA

Over 120 Complaints About Workplace Bullying Lodged By Housemen And Senior Doctors, Says MMA

Some complaints date as far back as 2017.

Adeline Leong

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A houseman’s death in Penang has raised questions regarding the toxic work environment faced by doctors.

The bullying is allegedly a rite of passage that junior doctors would have to go through and the toxic behaviours would be continued by senior doctors and nurses.

READ MORE: Houseman Died In Just 3 Weeks Of Starting Work, Raises Questions About Work Conditions In Penang Hospital

According to Astro Awani, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has received more than 120 complaints from medical professionals since 2017.

MMA President Dr Koh Kar Chai said the reports are not only from housemen but also from other doctors and specialists.

Since 2017, we have received more than 120 complaints. 80% are from housemen, 15% from doctors and 5% from specialists. So don’t assume that all complaints are from housemen. Other doctors also face these issues at work. The complaints aren’t only about cases of bullying but about work stress.

MMA President Dr Koh Kar Chai

It’s a long-known issue

A 2021 study titled ‘Workplace Bullying Among Junior Doctors In Malaysia: A Multicentre Cross-Sectional Study’ concluded that it’s a prevalent issue in Malaysia.

Medical officers (MOs) are the common perpetrators of the toxic work environment (59.1%), followed by nurses and support staff (31%).

Some of the most frequent types of bullying are:

  • Being asked to do work below the level of competence (21% weekly or daily)
  • Be humiliated or ridiculed (17% weekly or daily)
  • Physical intimidation bullying such as being shouted at or being the target of spontaneous anger. (16% weekly or daily)
Image: TRP File

Some doctors shared some of the abusive and toxic behaviours they have to deal with from senior doctors.

A Twitter user Tanuja shared her friend’s experience as an MO with an unreasonable specialist.

Tanuja’s friend arrived at work at 7.45am and began reviewing and finishing the cases she was in charge of.

However, a specialist came later and expected everyone to follow them when they make their rounds.

The specialist then asked Tanuja’s friend what’s the case about. Since Tanuja’s friend wasn’t in charge of that area, she couldn’t answer.

The specialist then said, “If you’re a good doctor, you would have taken the initiative to read the other cases too.”

Tanuja said there was no way to finish reading all the cases the moment you stepped into work.

She also pointed out that the MO in charge of that particular area wanted to present but was denied. Instead, the specialist purposely put a junior MO on the spot to be belittled.

Another Twitter user Qisti (@Qistisaurus), who’s also a doctor, shared her similar experience with an unreasonable senior doctor.

Qisti shared that there was an MO who liked scolding housemen for not thinking like a medical officer.

Instead of yelling at juniors, Qisti believes that it’ll be better to teach juniors how to think like a medical officer because everyone isn’t the same.

Another Twitter user @fhnmoiselle said that she was called the stupidest houseman by a registrar.

That hurtful statement stayed with her until today although it happened two and a half years ago.

A few of them shared about the physical abuse and bullying they faced as junior doctors.

Verbally abusive statements might sound minor to others but the damage can be lasting or cause unintended consequences.

Here’s to hoping our local doctors get better treatment at work and be treated like the medical professionals they are.


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