By: Nancy Peet, RN, VP-Director of Claims & Risk Management, William H. Connolly & Co., LLC
Two-thirds of nurses have raised concerns about patients receiving inadequate care, but a quarter has been told not to pursue them because of a “culture of fear and intimidation”, according to a report published.
The findings, from a survey of 8,262 nurses, cast doubt on the attitude to staff whistleblowing about poor care and its ability to respond to the official report.
An official report into the staff keeping silent and complaints being ignored as a key factor in the poor care. The staff should be able to speak out when they believe patient safety is at risk without fear of suffering as a result.
8,262 nurses surveyed had raised a concern, mostly about unsafe staffing (48%) or patient safety (21%). But 24% said they were discouraged or warned off taking any further action by managers or colleagues.
Almost half (45%) of those who spoke said their employer took no action as a result, while 44% said fears about being victimized or suffering reprisals had made them think twice about speaking out again in case they were seen as troublemakers.
Fear among staff about highlighting inadequate care was worrying because it is putting patient safety at risk.
It has been reported that nurses have shared about occasions when they have been bullied, ostracized or belittled when they have tried to raise concerns on behalf of their patients. One nurse who made a written report of her worries that there were too few staff to look after patients properly said that, as a result, “I was lambasted by my manager for putting in an incident form as it would lead to them being questioned by their manager.”
It is important that: “If you see poor care you should be able to tell someone without fear. If a manager stops you from raising the concern, it should be them who are punished, not you for having the guts to stand up and speak out.”