Some bullies wear white coats, new research reveals.
While healthcare workers aim to treat their patients with compassion, empathy and respect, a significant number do not follow those same ideals when working with each otheraccording to a recently published article by Massachusetts General Hospital.
Christine Porath, Ph.D, an expert on unprofessional behavior in the workplace cited in the article, told Fox News Digital this week that, according to her research, “too many healthcare workers and doctors are being treated disrespectfully.” .
And “we have found that most do not report it, often out of a sense of fear or hopelessness,” he added.
Porath has studied disrespectful behavior at work in nearly two dozen industries, including health care, and is a professor of management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business; she is also a consultant advising leading organizations on how to create thriving workplaces.
In an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review in November 2022 in which he also shared his research, he said rudeness at work “is defined as rudeness, disrespect, or insensitive behavior.”
For more than 20 years, he has surveyed “hundreds of thousands of people around the world about their experiences.”
Misbehavior in the workplace is on the rise due to a number of factors, said Porath, author of the 2022 book, “Dominating the Community: The Surprising Ways Coming Together Moves Us From Surviving to Thriving.”
Those factors include the stress of the COVID pandemic; the current economic recession; the ongoing war in Ukraine; a poor sense of community; negative emotions; an increase in the use of technology; and lack of self-awareness.
Of those surveyed, 76% of people said they experience incivility in the workplace at least once a month.
Their recent survey on the subject involved more than 2,000 people in more than 25 industries globally, including frontline workers. It revealed that 76% of respondents experience (and 78% witness) incivility at work at least once a month.
Porath is not the only one who has encountered problems in the fields of health care.
A 2022 Medscape survey of more than 1,500 physicians found that 86% of those physicians had witnessed or experienced bullying or harassment by physicians or staff in the past five years.
And 15% of those surveyed said those people had misbehaved in the past year.
Health and social service workers were five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers.
Additionally, health care and social service workers were five times more likely to experience workplace violence than all other workers, according to incidence data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018.
The Joint Commission, which accredits more than 22,000 US health care organizations and programs nationwide, revised the workplace requirements for “workplace violence” last year.
Incidents of “workplace violence” may include “verbal, nonverbal, written, or physical assaults; threatening, intimidating, harassing, or humiliating words or actions; intimidation; sabotage; sexual harassment; physical assaults; or other concerning behavior that involve staff, licensed professionals, patients, or visitors,” the Joint Commission noted in its guidelines that went into effect on January 1, 2022.
‘Purposeful change’ is needed
Dr. Pamela S. Douglas, a professor at Duke Medical School in Durham, N.C., told Fox News Digital that tackling inappropriate behavior in the healthcare workplace should involve more than just “raise awareness and punitive measures”.
“The only viable long-term solution is purposeful cultural change through a system-wide approach,” he said.
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It requires sustained leadership and [a] commitment of organizational resources,” he added.
The investigation of the complaint revealed a pattern of unprofessional conduct on the part of the specialist.
Dr. Gerald Hickson, founding director of the Vanderbilt Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy (CPPA) in Nashville, Tennessee, told Fox New Digital about a recent report he published involving a complaint of professionalism.
A newly hired specialist ate a nurse’s apple without that nurse’s permission. “She was between cases and was hungry,” the doctor said, according to the report.
“What I can’t believe is that the nurse came in [an expletive] security report and YOU have a bunch of minions wondering to share them,” said the same doctor, the report noted. “This is incredible”.
The investigation of the complaint revealed a pattern of unprofessional conduct on the part of this specialist.
The specialist’s actions ranged from criticizing a nurse in front of a patient, to asking a trainee to “stop asking stupid questions”, to refusing to participate in a “time out” before a procedure began.
For 25 years, Hickson’s organization “has partnered with hospitals across the US, now with over 200 sites, to conduct research and develop tools and define processes to identify and intervene to support the 2.5% to 4 % of our professional workforce that models disrespect and threatens outcomes of care,” Hickson noted.
Unprofessional behavior can have a ripple effect on patient care.
It can also cause psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, encourage workers to call in sick and lead to high staff turnover, according to the Joint Commission.
“As a medical student, I knew a senior resident who exemplified classic bullying behavior directed at students.”
“Patients who receive care from physicians who model disrespect for other team members and for patients and families are more likely to experience preventable medical and surgical complications and death,” Hickson noted.
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Dr. Kellie Lease Stecher is the President and Co-Founder of Patient Care Heroes, a platform that advocates for change within the culture of medicine and aims to tell the stories of healthcare workers who have sacrificed their lives for their profession. .
Based in Minneapolis, Stecher told Fox News Digital: “Med school is where it starts: the toxic medical culture, the gossip, the bullying, and so much more.”
Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, chief of the division of hematology at the University of Miami Sylvester Cancer Center, recalls his own experience later in the training.
“During my hematology/oncology fellowship, I estimate that two-thirds of my class of trainees exhibited signs of burnout or outright depression,” Sekeres told Fox News Digital.
“Nothing was done to address the psychological well-being of the trainees.”
“This would manifest as anger toward patients or other health care providers, sleeplessness, relationship problems, and general cynicism,” added Sekeres, who is also the author of the book “Drugs and the FDA: Safety, Efficacy, and the Public’s Trust.”
“Nothing was done to address the psychological well-being of the students,” he recalled. “Since then, many have left patient care and the profession altogether.”
Nashville’s Hickson still remembers to this day the way one of his superiors treated him in training all those years ago.
“As a medical student, I knew a senior resident who exemplified classic bullying behavior directed at students,” Hickson said.
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“Y [this individual] He declared to us that one day we would be grateful to him for the lessons he taught.”
He added: “I learned several valuable lessons, but it was about how bullying behavior threatens team performance and contributes to medical errors.”