What is Mistreatment?


The Definition of Mistreatment?

SMHS has defined mistreatment as behavior that shows disrespect for learners and unreasonably interferes with their respective learning process. Such behavior may be verbal (swearing, humiliation), emotional (neglect, a hostile environment), or physical (threats, physical harm). When assessing behavior that might represent mistreatment, learners are expected to consider the conditions, circumstances, and environment surrounding such behavior. Medical training is a rigorous process where the welfare of the patient is the primary focus that, in turn, may appropriately impact behavior in the training setting.

What is not Mistreatment?
  • Critique of students’ performance in a non-derogatory manner.
  • Being removed from a situation (e.g. surgery, procedure, exam) as a result of a lack of preparation that was was expected or because the patient feels uncomfortable with you in the room (e.g. male student with a female patient during an OB/GYN appointment).
  • Physician or medical staffing not speaking to you or answering questions during critical periods in patient care (e.g. surgery, procedures, codes).
  • Being asked to help with patient care in seemingly unconventional ways (e.g. calling for lab results, obtaining outside medical records, obtaining supplies for a procedure/surgery) as long as it is not meant as punishment or retaliatory in nature.
Review Specific Examples of Mistreatment.
  • Harmful, injurious, or offensive conduct;
  • Verbal attacks;
  • Insults or unjustifiably harsh language in speaking to or about a person;
  • Public belittling or humiliation;
  • Microaggressions based on any personal identifying characteristics;
  • Physical attacks (e.g., hitting, slapping, or kicking a person);
  • Requiring performance of personal services (e.g., shopping, babysitting);
  • Intentional neglect or lack of communication (e.g., neglect in a rotation of students with interests in a different field of medicine);
  • Disregard for learner safety;
  • Denigrating comments about a learner’s field of choice;
  • Assigning tasks for punishment rather than for objective evaluation of performance;
  • Exclusion of a learner from any usual and reasonable expected educational opportunity for any reason other than as a reasonable response to that learner’s performance or merit;
  • Other behaviors which are contrary to the spirit of learning and/or violate the trust between the teacher and learner.
  • Any of the above between two students, residents, staff, or faculty.
Mistreatment Policy

Review the SMHS Mistreatment Policy

Sample Case 1

A faculty member yells at a resident in front of a patient and their peers.  The faculty member says, "how could you be so stupid.  Are you incompetent?"

This is mistreatment. This faculty member disrespected the resident and interfered with their learning by creating an environment in which they were not able to learn from their experience, but were publicly shamed for it.  This would be classified as "public humiliation". 

Sample Case 2

A student feels that they should have received a different grade than what their evaluation reflected.   The student emails to ask the faculty member to change the grade.   The faculty responds by stating that they will not modify the grade.  

This is not mistreatment.  The faculty did not disrespect the student and is not interfering with their learning. 

Sample Case 3

A student notes that the male students are always given the opportunity to perform procedures, but that female students are not.  When the student discusses this with their peers, there are others who have had similar experience. 

This is mistreatment.  This student is treated differently because of their gender.  This report would be shared with the Title IX office.