Intimidating and Disruptive Behaviors in Health Care Organizations

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・APA ・1 Sources

The article, Behaviors that undermine a culture of safety, offers significant information towards quality and safe patient care. Patient care calls for discipline and commitment from the different health stakeholders to reduce or control medical errors, improve patient satisfaction, and reduce the cost of care, among other benefits. The article is significant as it highlights the different intimidating and disruptive behaviors that are likely to affect the quality of patient care negatively. Also, the article identifies various contributing factors or causes of such behaviors and even offers relevant recommendations to curb the undermining behaviors. Cases of intimidating and disruptive behaviors are rampant in health care organizations, leading to poor patient satisfaction, high costs of care, and medical errors, among other adverse impacts (The Joint Commission, 2008). Nurses, support staff, therapists, pharmacists, physicians, and other health care professionals engage physical threats, verbal outbursts, deliberately avoiding assigned tasks, or exhibiting uncooperative attitudes. Such behaviors intimidate other colleagues or disrupt the patient care activities. The senior health care professionals are not left out either and a majority uses their positions to threaten patient safety – the senior officials use power to refuse to return calls, answer questions, and uses condescending language. It is important for health care organizations to recognize that the behaviors mentioned above are unprofessional and proper measures should be taken against such professionals (intimidators) regardless of their gender or their positions. Failure to recognize intimidating behaviors puts health care organizations in great risks of erosion of professional behavior, and hostile or unhealthy work environment.

According to the article, a problem arises where most health institutions lack proper surveillance systems to monitor the behavior of health workers and even get immediate feedback (The Joint Commission, 2008). Some of the personal work experiences such as the fear of reporting or exposing the senior professionals are a key contributor to lack of safety and poor quality patient care. Also, in our department majority of the physicians, nurses and support staff do not have the courage to speak up and are always reluctant to confront intimidators. As a result, many cases of behavior intimidation are not reported and, therefore unaddressed. The work experiences mentioned above are largely attributed to poor communication and lack of proper skills in conflict management, hence, a keen interest in such areas is likely to improve patient care.

Moreover, the article identifies systemic and individual factors that cause the lack of safety and poor quality patient care. The individual factors include inherent stresses due to high emotion, high stakes, and fatigue, which occasionally result in intimidation. On the other hand, systemic factors result from pressures caused by embedded hierarchies, requirements of cost containment, and high productivity demands. Health care organizations must analyze the root causes discussed in the paragraph above, among other contributing factors in order to address the challenges facing patient care.

The article suggests different measures including the need to educate both health care professionals and support staff, ensuring accountability for desirable behaviors, inter-professional dialogues, and skill-based training for managers and leaders in health care, among others (The Joint Commission, 2008). Such measures should take into consideration the interests of all the health care stakeholders to avoid clashes and improve cooperation.

In conclusion, the major problems facing patient care are due to rampant cases of intimidating and disruptive behaviors such as verbal outburst and physical threats among health care professionals. The key contributors of such behaviors include systemic and individual behaviors, reluctance and fear among health care professionals, and improper surveillance of health workers. Therefore, health institutions should adopt strategic measures to resolve the issues discussed in order to ensure a favorable work environment and even reduce or eliminate the erosion of professional culture.


The Joint Commission. (2008). Behaviors that undermine a culture of safety. Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 40.

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