It’s time for hospitals to address workplace bullying

By: October 26th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

If you thought bullying was only a problem among teenagers in school settings, think again.

The November issue of Hospital Safety Center examines bullying in healthcare settings, how it relates to OSHA and workplace violence prevention, what the Joint Commission’s position is on the topic, and how to create an effective anti-bullying policy.

Here is an excerpt:

Workplace bullying is an all too common problem that hospitals across the country need to address, says ­Kenneth S. Weinberg, BA, MSc, PhD, of Safdoc Systems, LLC, in Stoughton, MA.

“We hear a lot about violence in hospitals. I think bullying is sometimes a predecessor to violence,” says ­Weinberg. Hospitals that can eliminate bullying in the workplace may be able to prevent some violent incidents in their facilities, he says.

The Joint Commission, in fact, expects hospitals to address what it calls “disruptive and inappropriate behaviors.” Hospitals must not tolerate ­intimidating and disruptive behaviors, The Joint Commission said in its Sentinel Event Alert #40, “Behaviors that undermine a culture of safety,” issued in 2008.

Joint Commission Leadership standards that took effect in 2009 require healthcare organizations to have a code of conduct that defines acceptable and disruptive and inappropriate behaviors and requires them to create and implement a process for managing these behaviors.

Weinberg says he has witnessed an undercurrent of bullying in hospitals where he worked. “It creates a tension, and in some cases people become afraid to come to work,” he says. Workplace bullying can include many disrespectful behaviors, such as harassment, teasing, gossiping, sabo­taging efforts, demeaning others, and verbal intimidation.

To read the article in its entirety, please login, subscribe, or try out HSC for 30 days.

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