Committee Opinion No. 683 Summary: Behavior That Undermines a Culture of Safety
A key element of an organizational safety culture is maintaining an environment of professionalism that encourages communication and promotes high-quality care. Behavior that undermines a culture of safety, including disruptive or intimidating behavior, has a negative effect on the quality and safety of patient care. Intimidating behavior and disruptive behavior are unprofessional and should not be tolerated. Confronting disruptive individuals is difficult. Co-workers often are reluctant to report disruptive behavior because of fear of retaliation and the stigma associated with “blowing the whistle” on a colleague. Additionally, negative behavior of revenue-generating physicians may be overlooked because of concern about the perceived consequences of confronting them. The Joint Commission requires that hospitals establish a code of conduct that “defines acceptable behavior and behavior that undermines a culture of safety.” Clear standards of behavior that acknowledge the consequences of disruptive and intimidating behavior must be established and communicated. Institutions and practices should develop a multifaceted approach to address disruptive behavior. Confidential reporting systems and assistance programs for physicians who exhibit disruptive behavior should be established. A concerted effort should be made within each organization to educate staff (ie, medical, nursing, and ancillary staff) about the potential negative effects of disruptive and inappropriate behavior. A clearly delineated hospital-wide policy and procedure relating to disruptive behavior should be developed and enforced by hospital administration. To preserve professional standing, physicians should understand how to respond to and mitigate the effect of complaints or reports.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists makes the following recommendations related to behavior that undermines a culture of safety:
© 2016 by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.
- Intimidating behavior and disruptive behavior are unprofessional and should not be tolerated.
- Institutions and practices should develop a multifaceted approach to address behavior that undermines a culture of safety.
- Health care organizations should make a concerted effort to educate staff about the potential negative effects of disruptive and unprofessional behavior on patient safety.