Working in healthcare is a noble endeavor, and it can be extremely stressful. Not only do healthcare providers need to be up to date on the latest treatments and protocols, but they must also be aware of the environment in which they deliver care.
A toxic healthcare environment is one that is characterized by mistrust, lack of communication, and a general feeling of negativity. It can put a strain on relationships between doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, and can make it difficult to deliver quality care. Furthermore, it can have a negative impact on patient safety and satisfaction.
In this blog post, we will explore the consequences of a toxic healthcare institution and strategies for creating a healthier, more positive environment.
Dangers to the employee
Working in a toxic healthcare environment can present a variety of dangers to employees. These can range from burnout and fatigue, to psychological distress due to overwhelming workloads, long hours, and a lack of support from supervisors. When it feels like busy work or you have no control of the execution of the work it is particularly stressful.
Dangers to the patient
A toxic healthcare environment can have serious implications for patient safety. Toxic environments can create a negative working atmosphere that can lead to decreased patient satisfaction and increased medical errors due to poor communication. In fact, after patients’ falls, the most common adverse effect is leaving a foreign object, like a sponge, instrument, or needle, in the body of a patient at the end of a surgical procedure. This could lead to an extended hospital stay, severe side effects, and even death.
Furthermore, a lack of respect between staff members can lead to decreased morale, communication breakdowns, and decreased patient engagement. The result can lead to decreased productivity and quality and prolonged wait times for patients.
Dangers to the institution
Toxic culture can have a devastating effect on an institution. It can create an environment where employees are unable to be productive, morale is low, and the overall atmosphere is negative. Toxic culture can lead to high turnover, as employees become dissatisfied with their experience and seek other opportunities.
In the case of leaving a foreign object within the patient, additional costs averaging over $70,000 and liability settlements upwards of $150,000 are not uncommon.
What can be done about it
It is important for employers and administrators to recognize these dangers and take steps to address them, such as providing a safe working environment with adequate resources and support, and establishing clear policies to ensure effective communication and a positive work culture.
Healthcare organizations should take proactive steps to create a culture of respect and safety. This includes implementing clear and consistent policies, procedures, and protocols.
Leaders should also lead by example and create an environment of open communication and collaboration. Additionally, organizations should invest in education and training opportunities for their staff to ensure that they know how to provide a safe and respectful environment for everyone. Performance reviews should align with these values and goals.
Finally, healthcare organizations should provide support systems for their staff and provide an opportunity for feedback and constructive criticism. By taking these steps, healthcare organizations can create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected and can focus on providing quality care to their patients.
A toxic healthcare environment can have far-reaching and long-term negative implications for both patients and healthcare providers. By understanding the source of the issue, advocating for change, and seeking support when needed, healthcare professionals can create a healthier, more supportive work environment.
Not sure if you’re working in a toxic environment? Take our assessment: https://www.drkaren.org/services/cultural-toxicity-assessment/
Know that you’re working in a toxic environment and need support to make a shift? Book a chat with Dr Karen https://www.drkaren.org/contact/