Use this acronym to guide investigations into nurse bullying

Nurse bullying is an unfortunate reality in the healthcare industry — 48 percent of graduating nurses expect to experience bullying at some point in their careers, according to statistics from American Sentinel University — and it falls on nurse leaders to look into accusations of bullying.

In a recent OR Exec newsletter article from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses, Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN, a nursing career coach, provided the acronym L.I.S.T.E.N. to guide nurse leaders in investigating nurse bullying.

L: Lean into the situation. Even though allegations of bullying usually are borne out of tense situations, "a nurse executive handling this type of situation must commit to doing the best job possible of objectively get[ting] to the root of the incident," the article reads. Dr. Quinlan also recommends starting the investigation as soon as possible.

I: Insight is the goal. Nurse leaders should attempt to gather as many facts about the lead up to the incident, the actual incident and what happened immediately after while refraining from judgment, according to Dr. Quinlan.

S: Solving the reason for the behavior is not your job. "Instead, your role is to stay focused on your referral for the plan of correction with a set timeframe and then hold that person accountable to achieve the agreed upon performance improvement steps," the article reads.

T: Take notes. This can help leaders stay objective and can also be helpful if the incident progresses to legal action.

E: Engage human resources early. "Invite them to be part of investigative interviews and, for those organizations with collective bargaining, discuss the possible need for a delegate to be involved in the investigative interviews," according to the article.

N: Never share an opinion. Sometimes during an investigation, participants ask the investigator how they would have acted in the situation, but according to Dr. Quinlan, it's important to not respond. "Remember that you are the one gathering information, all of the information," she told AORN. "Making the mistake of offering an opinion will likely come back to haunt you."

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