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Publication Type: Patient Safety Alert
Single or Multiple Incident: Multiple
Date: 6/1/2017 12:00:00 AM

This alert addresses the issue of bullying behaviour in healthcare facilities and its impact on patient safety. Bullying or aggressive behaviors between healthcare providers, such as verbal abuse and intimidation, can be a threat to safe patient care. Bullying behaviors can inhibit teamwork, obstruct communication, and delay implementation of new practices; it can interfere with patient care. This type of behavior may contribute to low worker morale, absenteeism, and high rates of staff turnover. A query of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) database revealed 44 events associated with bullying behaviors over a two-year period. Three top areas were identified where the events occurred: perioperative care areas 29.5%; medical/surgical units 25.0%; and the emergency department 15.9%. Strategies to reduce bullying behaviors include scripting methods to speak up to bullying in an assertive manner, such as D.E.S.C. (i.e., describe, express, suggest, consequences); role playing through simulation to practice confronting a bully; instituting zero tolerance anti-bullying policies with leadership enforcement; and enhancing staff awareness of human resources and management support.

Bullying in Healthcare: A Disruptive Force Linked to Compromised Patient Safety