Workplace Bullying in Hospitals Affects Patient Care

Oct. 27, 2017
New study says patients are negatively impacted if healthcare workers are bullied.

Nurses subject to hazing, harassment and bullying are a “significant” factor in the dynamics of patient care, work culture and job retention, according to research from the Emergency Nurses Association.

The study, published in the International Emergency Nursing Journal, used situational analysis to obtain experiences and opinions from 44 nurses.

"Workplace bullying is unfortunately pervasive in emergency nursing to the detriment of patient care," said Lisa Wolf, PhD, RN, CEN, FAEN, lead researcher and director of ENA's Institute for Emergency Nursing Research.

The research suggests obvious incidents of guilty bystanding, maintaining the status quo or retaliation in a hospital setting leads to bullying and a decline in patient care.

To combat the issue, researchers suggest management can have a significant effect on reducing workplace bullying and its related risks to nurses and patients. An assessment of hospital work environments should include nurse perceptions of and responses to workplace bullying, the study indicated.

Researchers also developed a model of nurse bullying in U.S. emergency departments they say can help hospital and emergency department leaders understand the process by which bullying manifests in their department.

The theory describes responses to bullying as it occurs, how those responses affect the frequency of that behavior and the influence the bullying and environmental elements might have on the prevalence of bullying.

"Our new theory shows a clear process nurses and administrators can use to identify bullying elements within their environment to ultimately correct this behavior," Wolf said.

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