Once you graduated from high school, you hoped that you would leave bullies behind. Unfortunately, as you went to college and then began your career, you realized that some people never grow out of the bullying mentality. Bullying behavior can even be specific to certain industries or more prevalent in some jobs than others, as you and other Pennsylvania residents may discover. Can workplace bullying in the health care field affect you as a patient?

According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, a bullying pecking order is common in the health care field, particularly the nursing industry. You may have heard horror stories about an emergency room doctor with a “God complex” or a senior nurse who runs her ward with an iron fist, belittling and terrorizing the younger nurses. Aside from it being awkward and embarrassing to witness, how might this create a bad situation for you? The following examples can explain:

  • Doctors who insult or lose their patience with others on their staff might cause their targets to become stressed, anxious and exhausted, raising the possibility of mistakes during surgery or emergency treatment.
  • A nurse who is being shamed, ostracized or hazed by her peers might lose her confidence and make a medication error.
  • An aggressive nurse might intimidate, threaten or harm patients.

While you were in school, you remembered bullying creating a feeling of dread, anxiety and fear whenever you thought about encountering your tormentors. These feelings are also common among professionals in the workplace when their superiors or co-workers are emotionally and verbally abusing them. At the least, workplace bullying can hinder productivity and disrupt harmony among staff. When professionals have a job to take care of others’ physical and emotional health, bullying is not only disruptive, but it can create an atmosphere that is detrimental to the safety and well-being of their patients.