ER doctors subjected to bullying and harassment, survey reveals

Emergency room doctors are suffering from workplace bullying and harassment according to a new survey.

A survey of the members of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) found 34 percent of the respondents have experienced bullying; 21.7 percent have experienced discrimination; 16.1 percent experienced harassment, and 6.2 percent experienced sexual harassment.

The College says it will immediately move to address the findings of the survey.

“The College is committed to its role of upholding the highest possible professional standards in emergency medicine,” said ACEM President Professor Tony Lawler. “We have taken the initiative to understand the extent of these behaviours among members and trainees. The survey identified that bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment are distressingly common in the emergency care environment in Australia and New Zealand.

“We owe a duty to our members, Fellows and trainees to do what we can to ensure emergency medicine is practiced in a respectful and inclusive environment, and will use this experience to listen to and engage with our members to bring about meaningful cultural change and address the problems caused by some members of our profession.

“As health care workers on the frontline and directly in the public eye, emergency physicians need to take a leadership position and champion and model the high standards of behaviour we expect of others.”

The College will coordinate with its members in preparing and publishing an Action Plan by late November to address the issues identified in the survey.

“ACEM seeks to promote the highest possible professional standards for emergency physicians. These principles are explicit in College policy and standards for accreditation for training in emergency medicine. These findings are not consistent with whom we believe ourselves to be, and we must respond to that,” said Professor Lawler.

“The behaviours reported in the survey not only pose a risk to the health, safety and professional wellbeing of those who are subjected to it, but also have an adverse effect on the workplace, the training environment, and the provision of care.

“We recognise that quality health care outcomes are dependent on high functioning teams across the hospital setting, and we are not doing the profession of emergency medicine or our patients any favours by conducting ourselves in this way.”

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