Harmful work environment ‘saps joy’ of health care employees: report

March 6, 2013

Boston – Health care workers commonly experience emotional and physical harm, and many health care organizations lack awareness or concern about workplace safety, according to a new report from the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation.

Through the Eyes of the Workforce: Creating Joy, Meaning, and Safer Health Care (.pdf file) is based on two expert roundtables. A key finding is that health care workers are at risk for bullying, harassment and physical assault from patients, which is often accepted as normal in the workplace. The environment creates “a culture of fear and intimidation that saps joy and meaning from work,” the report states, and may contribute to burnout, lost work hours, employee turnover and illnesses.

The report offers seven strategies to improve worker and patient safety, including adopting a clear goal to eliminate harm to workers, establishing data and performance metrics for accountability and improvement, and providing high-visibility recognition for worker achievements.