Rudeness Endangers Patients

James Cook University researchers say rudeness and discourtesy between health workers is endangering patients.

JCU PhD candidate Benjamin Freedman led a study analysing the responses of more than 16,000 people, including more than 11,000 nurses, in 41 global studies of incivility among health care workers.

“Incivility is different from bullying. Uncivil behaviours are characteristically rude and discourteous, of lower intensity than bullying, have an ambiguous intent to harm and are a violation of social norms.

“Within the nursing profession, the nature of incivility includes blaming others for your own errors, gossiping, cursing at others, ignoring, yelling, interrupting, or taking credit for someone else’s work,” said Mr Freedman.

He said the study revealed nearly one-in-four healthcare workers in hospitals experienced workplace incivility while nearly one-third witnessed incivility.

“Among other things, workplace incivility degrades teamwork, reporting of patient safety events and communication about errors.

“It’s associated with a range of outcomes including near misses, adverse events, reduced procedural and diagnostic performance, medical error, and mortality,” said Mr Freedman.

He said the study established the effect of incivility on patient safety culture and outcomes and gave valuable insights as to which aspects of healthcare it most affected.

“Rudeness or incivility is a common experience on healthcare teams, and developing more skilful responses to incivility is likely to have an impact on the safety and quality of healthcare.

“The study demonstrates that interventions focusing on incivility are a valuable mechanism for improving patient care,” said Mr Freedman.

Link to paper here.

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