Battling medical bullies

MSNBC.com has a story out today on ‘medical bullies’ – medical professionals who browbeat patients, ignore questions, act impatient, insult patients and/or colleagues or even yell, cuss and throw things.   Now the Joint Commission, a national hospital accrediting agency, warned that there’s mounting evidence that such disruptive behaviors are tied to medical errors that can cause patient harm — and called on hospitals to adopt a no-tolerance policy.

Starting in January, the agency will require hospitals to establish codes of conduct that define inappropriate behaviors and create plans for dealing with them. Suggested actions include better systems to detect and deter unprofessional behavior; more civil responses to patients and families who witness bad acts; and overall training in “basic business etiquette,” including phone skills and people skills for all employees.

The AMA has had a policy calling for zero tolerance for disruptive behavior for all workers for years.  The Joint Commission standards and suggestions will offer hospitals a clear model for establishing guidelines and consequences that will help decrease disruptive behavior.  Official warn that it could take years however for a major culture shift.

The MSNBC story includes a sidebar on bullying behaviors.  How many reader submissions featured here echo the very same behaviors listed?

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