Managing Conflict

November 5, 2011
Managing Conflict

Conflict may arise in any workplace or anywhere where there are people interacting for whatever reason.   In the hospital setting, many conflicts may arise throughout the course of the delivery of care.   Such examples of conflict could be related to differences in plan of care, scheduling and assignments, having access to equipment and supplies and possible even the placement of patients.   More serious conflicts could include end-of life decisions, or when there are medical errors that result in adverse outcomes.
Preventable workplace conflicts do drive up the cost of healthcare.   For example, the retention of good employees is much more cost effective than replacing staff members who leave due to unresolved conflicts between workers.   The Joint Commission had developed an organizational process for addressing intimidating and disruptive behaviors which calls for mediation session which would include representatives of medical staff, nursing staff, administrators and possibly members from the Human Resource department.   JCAHO also recommends that all accredited institutions utilize mediation for all conflicts in the workplace.
Mediation is a successful method used often in conflict resolution.   Mediation is where a neutral person facilitates conversation and communication for dispute resolution.   A mediator does not decide the outcome of the dispute but assists in the discussion of issues in a safe environment where there is the possibility of emotional or psychological strain. A mediator is to offers suggestions to achieve the goal of preserving a good work relationship in the future and resolve the conflict.   One of the fundamentals in mediation is to establish confidentiality.   This is out of an effort to encourage honest and open dialogue between the participants.
Nursing can be very stressful and stress and conflict go hand in hand.   Nurses must hone the skills to resolve conflicts on a regular basis.   Often nurses...