Bullying in health care settings has been recognized as a serious problem. A recent article in USA Today considers the problem. The report refers to an episode in Indiana in which a cardiac surgeon angrily threatened a perfusionist (someone who operates a heart and lung machine). The perfusionist brought suit, and in 2008, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed a $ 325,000 jury verdict for the plaintiff. Raess v. Doescher, No. 49S02-0710-CV-424 (Indiana SC, Apr. 8, 2008).
In addition, a 2008 report by the Joint Commission (the hospital accrediting group), Behaviors That Undermine a Culture of Safety, referred to a history of “tolerance” for “intimidating and disruptive behaviors in health care.” Bullying and other intimidating behaviors in healthcare settings are especially worrisome because of the possibility that patients could be harmed as a result. One survey found that more than three-quarters of healthcare workers were aware of “disruptive behavior” by physicians, and almost two-thirds were aware of such behavior by nurses.
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