Disruptive behavior can result in increased workplace stress and poor workplace environments which ultimately result in reduced quality of customer/consumer confidence, loss of qualified staff, and increased risk of litigation. In the medical model only a small number (3-5%) of healthcare professionals exhibit disruptive behavior (profane language, sexual comments, demeaning behavior, refusing to do tasks, chronic lateness) while at work. However, 97% of physicians and nurses report they have experienced disruptive behavior in the workplace.
In 2008, The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) published a sentinel alert on disruptive behavior, defining it as “behavior that undermines a culture of safety.” The concern about safety in the workplace is gaining traction not only in medical practices and hospitals but everywhere from law firms to corporate boardrooms. Disruptive behavior creates fear, confusion, apathy, burnout, unhealthy peer pressure, distrust of leaders and errors among support staff. When the atmosphere in a workplace suffers from these types of feelings, they impede institutional functioning. This deviation allows for staff to ignore institutional protocols, support staff to provide services that are out of scope, decreases their understanding of their job role, and reduces their sense of affiliation.
Multiple barriers to dealing with the problems exist. Disruptive professionals tend to be highly motivated, well trained, energetic, high income producers for the business, therefore making employers hesitant to stop an income stream or do harm to someone’s “career” path. Often there is little to no formal documentation of the behavior and established policies or procedures (training) to identifying and dealing with difficult employees are lacking. In hospitals and medical practices there has been a “collegial” approach to dealing with problem employees. Supervisors attempt to talk with, identify and ask the employee to stop or reduce the behaviors. If the individual is given a referral for a mental health evaluation, the evaluation often shows no mental health or addiction issues, leaving the employer with nowhere to go when the behaviors do not stop or they escalate.
The UF Health Professional Education, Enrichment and Rejuvenation (PEER) program will afford executives and professionals the opportunity to evaluate perceived strengths and identify challenges they may face within their work environment. The first phase of the program will consist of a 3-4 day evaluation utilizing multiple comprehensive assessments which will determine if there is a primary psychiatric, substance abuse or medical disorder. Clients that have a primary psychiatric, substance abuse or medical disorder will be referred to an appropriate program for treatment. The goal of this evaluation will be to provide the client and referral source an in-depth assessment outlining the needed educational and coaching programs that will increase the performance levels of not only the client’s career and personal goals, but that of the referring organization.
The UF Health PEER program has developed a protocol and behavioral health model for medical practices and corporations to follow concerning disruptive behavior in the workplace. This protocol includes better team communication, improved consumer/safety, increased quality of consumer/team care, reduced litigation, increased staff morale, and a healthier work environment are only some of the benefits to be achieved from dealing with disruptive behavior in the workplace. This program will be one of only four programs in the United States known for their expertise in the field of disruptive/distressed behavior. The UF Health PEER Program is the only program on the East Coast.