Joint Commission, Nurses and Bullying

Yesterday I put out a request for input into the expansion and development for our website and what we should focus on and include.  A member of the nursing profession asked that we discuss nurses with seniority who bully younger nurses.  A few minutes later I came upon this article, DO NURSES STILL “EAT THEIR YOUNG, ”  written by Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN.  She argues that it’s no longer just newbies that are impacted and has gone so far as to encompass the entire hospital staff.

In the article Olin includes the recommendations of the Joint Commission to Hospitals. I’d be interested to hear if this rings true for any of you and what your own experience has been. [link to the full article]:

The Joint Commission Responds

In January, 2009, new standards were enacted by The Joint Commission requiring more than 15,000 accredited health care organizations to create a code of conduct that defines acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and to establish a formal process for managing unacceptable behavior. The Commission warned that rude language and hostile behavior among health care professionals goes beyond being unpleasant and poses a serious threat to patient safety and overall quality of care.

Verbal outbursts, condescending attitudes, refusing to take part in assigned duties and physical threats all create breakdowns in the teamwork, communication and collaboration necessary to deliver patient care. The Joint Commission even addressed the problem of workplace bullying in its sentinel event alerts, in 2009.

A sentinel event is an unexpected occurrence involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or risk thereof. The phrase, “or the risk thereof” includes any process variation for which a recurrence would carry a significant chance of a serious adverse outcome. Such events are called “sentinel” because they signal the need for immediate investigation and response.

The Commissions’ Sentinel Event Alert recommends that health care organizations take specific steps to prevent these occurrences, including the following:

  • Educate all health care team members about professional behavior, including training in basics such as being courteous during telephone interactions, business etiquette and general people skills.
  • Hold all team members accountable for modeling desirable behaviors.
  • Enforce the code of conduct consistently and equitably.
  • Establish a comprehensive approach to addressing intimidating and disruptive behaviors that includes a zero tolerance policy. Encourage strong involvement and support from physician leadership.
  • Reduce fears of retribution against those who report intimidating and disruptive behaviors.
  • Empathize with and apologizing to patients and families who are involved in or witness intimidating or disruptive behaviors.
  • Determine how and when disciplinary actions should begin.
  • Develop a system to detect and receive reports of unprofessional behavior.
  • Use non-confrontational interaction strategies to address intimidating and disruptive behaviors within the context of an organizational commitment to the health and well-being of all staff and patients. []

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