Hospital Doctors and Staff Must Now Squelch Disruptive Behavior!
The Joint Commission, an organization in the United States which officially accredits and certifies all hospitals for participation in the Medicare program, has recently issued a new requirement to ensure patient safety in hospitals: squelch disruptive behaviors by physicians and other non-physicians on the hospital staff. The “why” and “what” of this requirement is explained in detail, with references, on the Joint Commission’s website and is contained in this extract:
Intimidating and disruptive behaviors can foster medical errors contribute to poor patient satisfaction and to preventable adverse outcomes increase the cost of care and cause qualified clinicians, administrators and managers to seek new positions in more professional environments. Safety and quality of patient care is dependent on teamwork, communication, and a collaborative work environment. To assure quality and to promote a culture of safety, health care organizations must address the problem of behaviors that threaten the performance of the health care team.
Intimidating and disruptive behaviors include overt actions such as verbal outbursts and physical threats, as well as passive activities such as refusing to perform assigned tasks or quietly exhibiting uncooperative attitudes during routine activities. Intimidating and disruptive behaviors are often manifested by health care professionals in positions of power. Such behaviors include reluctance or refusal to answer questions, return phone calls or pages; condescending language or voice intonation; and impatience with questions. Overt and passive behaviors undermine team effectiveness and can compromise the safety of patients. All intimidating and disruptive behaviors are unprofessional and should not be tolerated
The Commission requires that by January 2009, every hospital has in place a code of conduct that defines acceptable and disruptive and inappropriate behaviors and that hospital leaders create and implement a process for managing disruptive and inappropriate behavior. Some of the suggestions by the Commission includes: educate all team members regarding appropriate professional behavior, hold all team members accountable despite seniority or specialty and enforce the code of conduct by repeated reminders and punishment, zero tolerance for assault or criminal acts, protecting those who report unprofessional behavior and establish how and when to begin disciplinary actions. Go to the above link and read the entire requirement description.
Obviously, the establishment of what is disruptive and what is not may be difficult to define in some cases but hospitals are going to have to follow these requirements to pass accreditation inspections. I am sure some of my visitors have experienced actively disruptive (vocal or worse) or even passively disruptive (unwilling to answer phone calls or respond to a request) unprofessional behavior on the part of physicians or other hospital staff. There is no doubt that the efficiency and patient safety with regard to the diagnosis and treatment and care of all patients along with attention to their family’s concerns would be improved if “we could all get along.” ..Maurice.