The Joint Commission, an agency that evaluates and accredits more than 15,000 healthcare organizations in the US, issued a bulletin on Wednesday saying rude, hostile and disruptive behavior among doctors, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, support staff and administrators will no longer be tolerated.
The bulletin warns of possible loss of accreditation for U.S. medical facilities that do not check intimidating and disruptive behavior that can undermine patient safety. The commission will enforce new standards that require healthcare organizations to create a code of conduct and a formal plan for managing bad behavior.
Beginning next year, the Joint Commission intends to add rude language and hostile behavior on its list of things that could lead to incidents that may cause death or serious injury and therefore, should be reported to the organization.
"Verbal outbursts, condescending attitudes, refusing to take part in assigned duties and physical threats all create breakdowns in the teamwork, communication and collaboration necessary to deliver patient care," the commission said. A survey by the Joint Commission found that about 40% of clinicians have kept quiet or remained passive when witnessing bad behavior.
"They create an unsafe [health-care] environment," said Dr. Mark Chassin
, president of The Joint Commission, of those displaying hostile behavior. "Most health-care workers do their jobs with care, compassion and professionalism. But sometimes professionalism breaks down and caregivers engage in behaviors that threaten patient safety."
"It is important for organizations to take a stand by clearly identifying such behaviors and refusing to tolerate them," Chassin said.
According to the commission, bad behavior could lead to serious errors that include accidental limb removal, a doctor or a nurse giving wrong medication to a patient or a patient acquiring an infection during a stay in the hospital.
Founded in 1951, the non-profit Joint Commission is empowered by Congress to ensure the quality and safety of hospitals. Joint Commission accreditation is crucial to a hospital's finances because it allows facilities to treat federally subsidized Medicare patients.