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After All these Years, Bullying and Intimidation Continue to Run Rampant in the Workplace

June 10, 2014

In 2013, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices conducted a survey on bullying, incivility, intimidation, and other forms of disrespectful behavior that have run rampant in healthcare while many remain silent or make excuses to minimize the profound devastation that disrespectful behavior leaves in its wake. These behaviors range from overt acts of abuse and bad behavior to insidious actions so embedded in our culture that they seem normal.

Any behavior that influences the willingness of staff or patients to speak up or interact with an individual because he or she expects the encounter will be unpleasant or uncomfortable, fits the definition of disrespectful behavior.

The results of our survey clearly exposed healthcare’s continued tolerance of and indifference to disrespectful behavior. Despite more than a decade of emphasis on safety, little improvement has been made. Widespread disrespectful behaviors in healthcare persist unchecked and are found at all levels of the organization and among all disciplines of staff. 

Have you been at the receiving end of disrespectful behavior at your institution? Has your institution taken steps to mitigate this type of behavior?


Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP, is the Director of Error Reporting Programs at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

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