Researchers from the American College of Surgeons and Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at Northwestern University, both in Chicago, surveyed U.S. 6,956 general surgery residents and found that 67% of respondents have experienced at least one bullying behavior during their time as a resident.
The behavior is widespread. When Medscape surveyed 6,200 physicians and clinicians in 2018 about sexual harassment incidents over the prior three years, it found 7% of physicians and 11% of nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants had experienced sexual harassment.
The bill, which passed by a 251-158 vote, ensures that healthcare and social service employers, including hospitals, take specific steps to prevent workplace violence and ensure the safety of patients and workers.
The campaign’s goal is to support, empower, and protect ED workers by raising awareness of the serious dangers emergency health providers face every day. The program also aims to spur action among stakeholders and policymakers to ensure a violence-free workplace for emergency nurses and physicians.
Although implementing workplace violence prevention programs can be expensive, recognizing that these changes can be profitable—and maybe even less costly—can help overcome existing mindsets to find a plan that works.
Workplace violence is prevalent in the emergency department—78% of emergency physicians have reported being targets of workplace violence in the prior 12 months.
The survey of 7,409 residents in 262 residency training programs across the nation — more than 99% of general surgery residents in the United States — found the most common workplace mistreatment were sex discrimination (32%), verbal abuse/bullying (30%), racial discrimination (16.6%), and sexual harassment (10.3%).
Kate Fenner, PhD, RN, is managing director of Compass Clinical Consulting, specializes in organizational optimization, performance improvement, and regulatory compliance. She spoke about how harassment allegations should be handled, preventive measures, and the need to take both seriously.
Healthcare institutions often respond to situations of violence by implementing new policies and rules, and most require some type of de-escalation training for their staff. A less frequently discussed method of reducing episodes of violence in high-stress situations is unconditional positive regard, a concept developed by psychologist Carl Rogers.
The report, titled Mitigating the Risk of Workplace Violence in Health Care Settings, breaks down stressors and risk factors that can trigger disruptive and sometimes violent behavior.