Workplace Aggression Causes Mistakes, Even In Operating Rooms

 Doctor scolding nurse: via jupiterimages.comDoctor scolding nurse: via

We've all been there.  Every workplace seems to have one or more agressive employees or supervisors that behave agressively or rudely on the job.  A new study conducted by a psychologist at the University of Aberdeen in Great Britain, shows how harmful that behavior is to the performance of workers.

Professor Rhona Flin, who led the study published in the British Medical Journal, said that one in ten workers witness rude behavior in the workplace.  Her special interest, however, is agressive behavior in healthcare settings, where disagreements among clinical staff are common.

Surveying National Health Service (NHS) operating room staff, Flin found that during the prior six months two-thirds of those surveyed said that they had been on the receiving end of agression from nurses and half said that they had been treated aggressively by surgeons.

The results of agressive incidences can impair cognitive skills, not only to the victims, but to others who have witnessed the incidents.  It may even impair the performance of the instigator. You know how tension can fill a whole room full of witnesses when only one person has been singled out.  It's hard to get back to work as if nothing happened.

"In surgical environments, all staff require high levels of attention and memory for task execution—for example, anaesthetists remembering to administer drugs or nurses counting instruments," Flin said.

"If incivility does occur in operating theatres and affects workers’ ability to perform tasks, the risks for surgical patients—whose treatment depends on particularly high levels of mental concentration and flawless task execution—could increase....  People concerned with patient safety should note that civility between workers may have more benefits than just a harmonious atmosphere."

Maybe patients should obtain signed pledges from the operating staff to get along with each other before, during, and after their surgeries...?