13 ways to address disrespectful behaviors in healthcare: ISMP

Hospitals and health systems must work to address disrespectful behaviors in the workplace, which can pose consequences for patient safety, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices wrote in a March 10 report.

The report builds off a survey ISMP conducted in late 2021 among 1,047 healthcare workers, which found 79 percent had personally experienced disrespectful behaviors in the past year. A majority of respondents were nurses (42 percent) and pharmacists (37 percent), though some physicians, pharmacy technicians, quality experts and other leaders were also polled. 

"Disrespectful behaviors in healthcare are not too complex to reverse, but it requires deliberate, intentional and persistent actions to start the process," ISMP said.

The organization outlined 13 ways organizations can address disrespectful behaviors in healthcare:

1. Create an organizational culture that sets the foundation for a healthy workplace.

2. Establish a steering committee of employees from across the organization to create an action plan for addressing disrespectful behaviors.

3. Create a "no retribution" policy for people who report disrespectful behaviors.

4. Conduct an anonymous survey to assess staff members' perceptions of workplace culture and their experiences with disrespectful behaviors.

5. Develop a standard communication process for employees to share important clinical information to limit the opportunity for disrespectful behaviors.

6. Establish an escalation policy to manage conflicts about the safety of a medical order.

7. Require all staff members to undergo training about disrespectful behaviors annually. 

8. Create a confidential reporting system for disrespectful behaviors.

9. Investigate all reports of disrespectful behavior as soon as they're made. 

10. Implement interventions to consistently address all disrespectful behaviors.

11. Address systemic factors that may perpetuate disrespectful behaviors, such as excessive workloads or power imbalances.

12. Develop a surveillance system to measure staff members' compliance with the organization's code of conduct. 

13. Create a support system for staff experiencing, witnessing or being accused of disrespectful behaviors. 

To learn more about each recommendation, click here.

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