Workplace Bullying in the United States Healthcare Industry

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“US healthcare workers face rise in workplace violence” on the World Socialist Web Site delineates workplace violence and harassment against healthcare professionals in the United States and is described as becoming “a nationwide phenomenon”. It chronicles workplace violence as “physical assaults, physical or verbal harassment, and even homicide”. (Johnson, 2019).

The article states that workplace violence in the healthcare sector remains higher than in most professions. They believe this is a result of the nature of the healthcare system in the United States. Healthcare is expensive in the US and many people are uninsured. They believe that this “translates into a potentially toxic environment for those providing patient care.” (Johnson, 2019).

Angela Simpson, a nurse from Maryland sustained a serious head injury from a patient after being attacked stated that “it is more likely that I will be hurt on the job by an assault than him”. She was referring to her husband, a corrections officer. (Johnson, 2019).

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We selected an academic study from the New England Journal of Medicine which explored “Discrimination, Abuse, Harassment, and Burnout in Surgical Residency Training”. This paper details a survey supported by the American College of Surgeons, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the American Board of Surgery. They surveyed 7409 residents in 262 residency training programmes across the United States.

“Exposure to workplace mistreatment was the largest driver of surgical residents’ burnout” (Bilimoria, 2019). This an extract from the accompanying comments with the journal by study principal investigator Karl Y. Bilimoria, MD, director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Centre at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

Nearly 31% of residents reported the frequency of mistreatment as a few times per year, and 19% reportedly experienced mistreatment a few times or more each month. (Hu et al., 2019). In a world where we can often assume bullying is an issue restricted to children during school, this figure is startling. It also reinforces the sentiment that workplace harassment is thriving in the healthcare sector.

Women, who represent less than 40% of the survey respondents, were twice as likely to report mistreatment as their male colleagues: 70.6% versus 36%. (Hu et al., 2019). This was interesting and would support the archaic culture of ‘manning up’ and taking things ‘on the chin’.

Nearly half (47.4%) of the racial discrimination complaints and 43.6% of sexual harassment complaints were prompted by interactions with patients and their families. (Hu et al., 2019). 'It completely changes how we should intervene…We need to arm residents with the skills and ability to address discrimination from patients and patients' families affecting them and their colleagues.' (Bilimoria, 2019). This highlighted that patients and their families are massive contributors to the harassment which was mentioned in the article. Nurses are not the only victims of workplace bullying in the United States healthcare industry. We feel that the article focused heavily on nurses and while the overall sentiment was correct, it completely neglected other roles within the healthcare profession.

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Workplace Bullying in the United States Healthcare Industry. (2020, December 24). WritingBros. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“Workplace Bullying in the United States Healthcare Industry.” WritingBros, 24 Dec. 2020,
Workplace Bullying in the United States Healthcare Industry. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
Workplace Bullying in the United States Healthcare Industry [Internet]. WritingBros. 2020 Dec 24 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from:
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