Conflicts in the workplace have the potential to affect every worker in an organization. In some instances, conflicts have the potential to affect patients. Further, if conflicts are left unresolved, there may be some hefty consequences an innocent person, possibly a patient, has to pay simply because there was no resolution between the conflicted parties.
When an employee is experiencing negative feelings or emotions resulting from a conflict, it may cause them to neglect their patient care responsibilities. If an employee feels it necessary to leave a work area to "blow off steam," this decision may hinder their ability to deliver timely and focused patient care. Further, no matter the conflict, patients need immediate care, therefore it is important to respond to their calls and needs personally or, if a personal break is necessary, ask a fellow co-worker to briefly cover your patient care responsibilities.
It may be hard for certain people to be in the same room with someone they are having problems with, and the tension between the involved parties can affect others around them, especially patients. In most cases, it is difficult enough for a patient to feel comfortable receiving care in a hospital or clinic atmosphere, therefore adding stress through employee conflict may have further repercussions for the patient's health and well-being. If you find yourself in a conflict situation with a fellow employee, keep the patient's best interest in mind and ask a neutral person to step in for you or do your best to work through your personal issue and resolve it in private.
Nothing can throw someone's day off more than getting into a conflict. Mistakes are bound to happen, but being shaken up by a stirring rift can cause more mistakes. When it comes to dealing with patients, it's important to keep mistakes to a minimum. If you feel that you can't calm down physically or mentally, you may need to call someone else to assist you in order to make sure you are not putting someone else's life in danger.
Unfortunately, when a conflict has escalated to assault between two or more workers, patients may suffer emotional distress from experiencing the altercation. This form of assault can be direct physical abuse, such as hitting, throwing objects, or even yelling obscenities at one another. These examples are inappropriate in any instance, but especially inappropriate when done in the presence of a patient. They could be hurt unintentionally and any emotional distress could worsen their condition. If you ever feel that a conflict between you and another worker may turn physical you need to remove yourself from the situation immediately and be sure to explain why to those who may be affected by your leaving.
Christina Caldwell is a contributor for online publications such as Women's eNews and Little Pink Book. Her work has also been featured in the popular U.K. magazine "Black Heritage Today." Caldwell holds a bachelor's degree in marketing and communications.