New rule seeks to stymie bullying in nursing homes and hospitals

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Workplace bullying and intimidation run rampant in America's hospitals and nursing homes, leading to preventable medical errors, increased cost of care and poor resident satisfaction. The Joint Commission wants to combat this behavior and has unveiled a plan to reduce disruptive attitudes in all healthcare settings.

The Commission, an organization dedicated to the improvement of quality in healthcare, released its 11-point plan to eliminate workplace intimidation on Wednesday. It will take effect on January 1, 2009, as a rule for all accreditation programs. The Commission is asking facilities to develop a system of reporting bad behavior, educate staff on professional attitudes, implement a method of dealing with unruly physicians and staff, and encourage dialogue between employees.

A recent report found that up to 50% of all nurses experience bullying in the workplace and that 90% have witnessed an act of intimidation (McKnight's 4/8/08). While physicians are the primary culprits, the report also indicates that nurses, too, are often to blame for contributory attitudes. For a full list of the Joint Commission's rules and recommendations, visit  www.jointcommission.org/SentinelEvents/SentinelEventAlert/sea_40.htm.