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Nurse Retention: Nurse Bullying Is Costly

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 3rd, 2013

The American Nurses Association (ANA) reports that between 18 and 31 percent of nurses have experienced bullying at work. Like childhood bulling, workplace bullying involves a real or perceived imbalance of power and repeated of the negative behavior. This can be overt, such as yelling or threatening, or it can be more insidious and passive, like refusing to cooperate or perform necessary tasks.

Whatever forms it takes, bullying in the healthcare workplace can result in demoralization, decreased job satisfaction, and/or feelings of isolation, anxiety, sadness and even depression. How do we expect to retain nurses if they are being bullied and experiencing these symptoms as a response?

Bullying can also have negative effects on patient care. In a 2008 Sentinel Alert that addressed disruptive behaviors, The Joint Commission noted that “intimidating and disruptive behaviors can foster medical errors and (lead) to preventable adverse outcomes.”

Nurse bullying is costly for employers, as it results in increased turnover. A 2009 MedSurg Nursing article by John Murray noted that “bullying in the workplace can cost over $4 billion yearly.”

The ANA released a second edition of the guidance booklet Bullying in the Workplace: Reversing a Culture last year. Now it’s preparing to launch a new health risk assessment, which will include questions about factors that could affect the health and safety of nurses, including questions about bullying.

One problem that perpetuates bullying in health care is underreporting.  The Joint Commission’s Sentinel Alert cited an Institute for Safe Medication Practices survey that found that 40% of clinicians have “kept quiet or remained passive during patient care events rather than question a known intimidator.”

The Joint Commission said, “Organizations that fail to address unprofessional behavior through formal systems are indirectly promoting it.” And in 2009, they requiring that organizations establish a code of conduct that defines and distinguishes acceptable and unacceptable behaviors to maintain their accreditation.

But it’s not enough to just put an anti-bullying policy in place. Leaders must also make certain everyone is aware of the policy and there must be ramifications of violating it.

To create an environment of respect, trust and productivity and to learn nurse retention and nurse recruitment strategies, go to SelfCare for HealthCare. You can also CONTACT ME DIRECTLY to talk about customizing a program that specifically meets your facility’s needs.

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