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Joint Commission Alert: Stop Bad Behavior Among Health Care Professionals
Date:7/9/2008

in behaviors that threaten patient safety. It is important for organizations to take a stand by clearly identifying such behaviors and refusing to tolerate them."

To help put an end to intimidating and disruptive behaviors among physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, support staff and administrators, the Sentinel Event Alert recommends that health care organizations take 11 specific steps, including the following:

-- Educate all health care team members about professional behavior, including training in basics such as being courteous during telephone interactions, business etiquette and general people skills;

-- Hold all team members accountable for modeling desirable behaviors, and enforce the code of conduct consistently and equitably;

-- Establish a comprehensive approach to addressing intimidating and disruptive behaviors that includes a zero tolerance policy; strong involvement and support from physician leadership; reducing fears of retribution against those who report intimidating and disruptive behaviors; empathizing with and apologizing to patients and families who are involved in or witness intimidating or disruptive behaviors;

-- Determine how and when disciplinary actions should begin; and

-- Develop a system to detect and receive reports of unprofessional behavior, and use non-confrontational interaction strategies to address intimidating and disruptive behaviors within the context of an organizational commitment to the health and well-being of all staff and patients.

Addressing unprofessional behavior among health care professionals is part of a series of Alerts issued by the Joint Commission. Previous Alerts have addressed pediatric medication errors, wrong-site surgery, medication mix-ups, health care-associated infections and patient suicides, among others. The complete list and text of past issues of Sentinel Event Alert can be found on The Joint Commission's website (

SOURCE The Joint Commission
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