Contending with patient verbal abuse and public distemper is difficult enough, but receiving such ill-treatment from a fellow hospital staff member can be especially hurtful. Such events erode trust, abolish the spirit of teamwork and can damage relationships. What begins as a blow to the self esteem and self-confidence can lead to resentment, bitterness and staff disengagement with repeat exposure.
Of further concern is the fact that staff performance on the receiving end is significantly hampered with the potential, but real, possibility of patient harm as a consequence. Evidence points to an increase in errors in the aftermath, as one’s mental capacity is diminished as one copes with the processing of the uncivil behaviour; mental energy which is diverted from a focus on patient care. Laudable efforts and valuable resources exist for affected hospital staff; however, we can do more collectively to adopt a hospital culture of civility.
Incivility is a learned and insidious behaviour and its effects far reaching. It denies teams of their potential, undermines hospital morale and can drive people to quit. The complexity that is inherent in any modern hospital setting is made manageable when we treat each with respect and truly value each other’s role in health care delivery. Health care is incumbent on the integration of a multitude of teams, but the pursuit of optimal health care is predicated on the fact that team members feel safe, have a voice, and feel valued.
Please do yourself, your teams, and most importantly, your patients the favor of viewing the Ted Talks video listed below. It speaks to the profound downstream impact that rudeness or uncivil behaviour can have, often at an unintended cost; optimal patient care.
Video Link: When rudeness in teams turns deadly | Chris Turner | TEDxExeter – YouTube