Snapping at medical staff may cause bigger problems than patients realize, especially when it comes to the quality of care their children receive. Researchers from Tel Aviv University found that rude parents in the neonatal intensive care unit create a wider margin for medical error and misdiagnosis. Insensitive comments also lower effective communication between medical team members.

The results, which should shock literally no one, prove that treating people poorly can have seriously negative consequences, especially for the most critically ill children.

The study, led by Dr. Arieh Riskin, NICU director at B'nai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, and co-authored by Dr. Peter Bamberger, the associate dean for research at Coller School of Management at Tel Aviv University, used NICU crisis simulations with actor parents and plastic babies. (The fact that real NICU babies weren’t harmed in this study should give us all a sigh of relief—sort of. )

Although the research didn’t impact the care actual babies in the NICU received, real babies have likely been victims of lower-quality care because of their parents’ bad attitudes.

While the staff participating in the study did not know what they were being evaluated for, they were instructed to provide the same type of care as if they were in a true emergency situation, while also dealing with family members—something all NICU medical providers deal with on a daily basis. What the researchers found was a measurable difference in how the nurses and doctors cared for the plastic babies, based on how the parents interacted with them.

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