Copyright (c) 2004 National Employee Rights Institute & Chicago-Kent College of Law
Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal
SYMPOSIUM: INTRODUCTION TO THE SYMPOSIUM ON WORKPLACE BULLYING: WORKPLACE BULLYING IN THE HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONS
8 Empl. Rts. & Employ. Pol'y J. 455
By Eliza S. Vanderstar*
Workplace bullying is a destructive phenomenon in any setting, but when it occurs in the healthcare professions, employees, employers, and patients alike may pay the consequences. This article will examine the reality of bullying in the healthcare professions, including factors particular to nursing and medical training and practice that support bullying. Evidence of bullying in the healthcare workplace will be presented by examining relevant research studies and the results of interviews conducted with doctors and nurses in the Boston area. Many different professionals work in healthcare settings, including nurses, doctors and others such as physical therapists and medical social workers. Accordingly, a dual focus on nurses and doctors is appropriate due to their pivotal role in all stages of healthcare from acute hospitalization to preventative outpatient care and in light of available research.
Some of the psychological and physical costs linked to bullying in healthcare have been studied, but the full impact of bullying in healthcare, including economic losses, has not. Nevertheless, the evidence is sufficient to conclude that bullying is a problem that calls for remedial measures. Employer policies tailored to recognize and curtail bullying may be a viable response. Such policies may, in turn, create legally enforceable rights for workers and expose employers to liability. In any event, increased awareness and education constitute the starting point. One hope is that because those trained in the healthcare professions are uniquely skilled to recognize the human toll bullying takes in any setting, they ...
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