Healthcare Bullies Are a Threat to Patient Safety, Report Finds

Bullying or aggressive behaviors between healthcare providers can seriously impact safe patient care, a report from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority finds.

“Facility-reported events between healthcare providers in Pennsylvania included descriptions of verbal abuse, intimidating behaviors, and work interference,” said Dr. Ellen S. Deutsch, medical director for the Authority.

In response to requests from Pennsylvania patient safety officers for resources to address workplace bullying, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority analyzed such events reported through the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS).

Authority staff also developed a card-sized de-escalation tool that healthcare staff can keep with their name badges.

Authority staff reviewed events reported from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2016, that described behaviors synonymous with bullying and identified 44 event reports that met specific criteria for workplace bullying between healthcare staff.

Workplace bullying can inhibit teamwork, block staff communication, and impede the implementation of new practices.

Of the 44 bullying events, most were categorized under event type other/miscellaneous (n = 25) followed by error related to a procedure, treatment, or test. Of the events, the majority of descriptions involved verbal abuse and/or intimidating behaviors.

“Forty-four reported bullying events between healthcare staff indicates that the existing dialogue about workplace bullying should continue,” said Deutsch. “There are applicable strategies that facility leadership can put in place to empower employees through education, accountability, and enforcement.”

Find out more at PatientSafety.

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