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Bullying culture in health care can be detrimental to patients

Medical MalpracticeNews   April 5, 2019

Unfortunately, not everyone leaves bullying behind after their high school years. This can be especially true in the health care industry. In fact, some experts say that on-the-job bullying is more prevalent in health care than any other field across the country. You and other Ohio residents should be aware of this, because if bullying is present among your medical team as you are hospitalized, it can have an adverse effect on your health and safety.

The Journal of Emergency Medical Services explains that bullying is a common behavior among doctors, nurses and other health care workers. Why is this so, you may wonder? Health care is a fast-paced, stressful and competitive industry. Doctors and hospital administrators may feel they need to run a tight ship and keep their staff under strict control, and they can use less-than-positive means to maintain order and ensure efficiency. Senior nurses may feel superior to or threatened by newer nurses, and they may even form pecking orders or cliques to ostracize or belittle those they do not like or newcomers who have not proved themselves yet. It is also possible for some members of staff to try to undermine other workers or take credit for their work.

Health care bullying can take the following forms:

  • Yelling, threatening, insulting and belittling subordinates
  • Conducting hazing rituals or tests for newer members to prove their worth
  • Gossiping and ostracizing
  • Physically attacking another member of staff

The emotional and physical toll bullying takes on victims can affect you and other patients. For example, an exhausted nurse, or one who feels like she cannot do anything right as a result of constant bullying by other nurses could make a mistake during a procedure. You may receive the wrong medication dosage or the wrong drug, or a member of your medical team could forget to inform your doctor of an important development in your condition.

As you can expect, bullying does not just impact the target of the behavior. The harmful effects of bullying can trickle down to others in the environment.