Rude language and hostile behavior are threats to patient safety and quality of care, according to a sentinel-event alert released by the Joint Commission.
Intimidating and disruptive behavior can lead to medication errors or preventable adverse events, and such behavior is prevalent enough that an Institute of Medicine study found 40% of clinicians remain quiet rather than stand up to an intimidating colleague, according to the alert. The problem has become so engrained in healthcare that its rarely talked about, said Mark Chassin, the physician who is president of the commission, during a news conference. By ignoring unprofessional behavior, practitioners are tacitly condoning it, he said.
In addition to recommendations outlined in the alert, the commission had previously announced it would ensure hospitals maintain code-of-conduct policies and procedures that address disruptive behavior. Beginning Jan. 1, 2009, hospitals will have to follow a new standard that defines acceptable and inappropriate behavior as well as identifies a process for dealing with disruptive behavior. The standard applies to all hospital personnel. Hospital leaders will also be expected to evaluate their culture of safety and quality and discuss those issues with all employees.