Incivility in the Medical Industry


The medical industry is designed to help individuals cope with their health issues. However, it can sometimes happen that people do not obtain the required care for many reasons. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA) (2015), the healthcare workplace can suffer from “harmful actions taken and those not taken” (p. 2). This phrase refers to a set of wrongful actions and failures to act in the required manner to ensure that patients receive adequate care. The typical examples of wrong acts include incivility, bullying, and workplace violence, and the following paragraphs will comment on the first term of the three.

Incivility in the workplace is an essential phenomenon since it can negatively affect the whole healthcare metaparadigm. This term is a broad phenomenon that includes rude actions, gossiping, refusing to help a colleague, and many other behaviors that are considered unacceptable since they can deteriorate interpersonal relationships. Armstrong (2018) indicates that this problem is widespread in the United States since 76% of participants of a national survey reported experiencing this issue (p. 403). That is why there is no doubt that this phenomenon should attract sufficient attention from the nursing profession. Thus, the paper will present how incivility affects nurses’ ability to use high-level clinical judgment, what adverse issues this phenomenon brings, how workplace communication is impacted, and what initiatives to address the problem exist.

Incivility and Nurses’ Ability to Use High-Level Clinical Judgement

Since incivility implies harm, it is reasonable to consider how it affects nurses and their use of high-level clinical judgment. Firstly, the phenomenon under analysis can lead to improper clinical decisions because it makes nurses experience emotional suffering (Armstrong, 2018). When healthcare professionals face incivility, they can become emotionally upset, which can result in putting patients at risk. Secondly, this problem is associated with deteriorated decisions because it leads to decreased job satisfaction and reduced organizational commitments (ANA, 2015). On the one hand, dissatisfaction results in the fact that healthcare professionals do not have any desires to come to work and perform their duties. On the other hand, the insufficient commitments imply that workers are not interested in doing their best to achieve the organizational goals.

Thirdly, workplace incivility can result in specific diagnoses that prevent nurses from using high-level clinical judgment. Armstrong (2018) stipulates that this phenomenon can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in health care professionals. This statement results in the fact that nurses suffer from essential mental issues that make it challenging for them to control their emotions and make reasonable decisions. This state of affairs denotes that wrong clinical decision are often made because of incivility.

Incivility and Patients

Even though incivility directly impacts relationships between coworkers, patients can also experience adverse effects. Firstly, Armstrong (2018) stipulates that incivility is associated with unsafe medication administration. Since the worker’s morale is affected, it can be challenging for them to focus on care delivery. Consequently, multiple patients suffer from medication errors affecting their health outcomes. Secondly, the destructive nature of incivility leads to the fact that nurses can make errors in patient care, especially regarding safety (ANA, 2015). It includes both subjecting individuals to a harmful impact and ignoring the existing threatening factors. For example, incivility can result in the situation that a nurse is overwhelmed with the problem and delays providing patients with treatment according to the stipulated schedule.

Thirdly, one can mention that incivility in the workplace is associated with patient injuries. For example, the ANA (2015) indicates that there is a connection between the phenomenon under consideration and an increased incidence of patient falls. The rationale behind this linkage is that incivility results in the fact that medical professionals fail to allocate sufficient attention to ensure that all possible dangers are minimized. Consequently, the three examples reveal that workplace incivility leads to deteriorated health outcomes among patients.

Incivility and Communication

There is no doubt that incivility in the workplace adversely affects clinical site communication. On the one hand, interprofessional relationships suffer because coworkers start having complaints about one another because of incivility. For example, when a case of gossiping or a rude action occurs, healthcare professionals tend to become dissatisfied with their colleagues. This situation results in innuendos, a lack of motivation to involve in communication acts, and others. These conditions are adverse since they establish a challenging environment and strained relations at clinical sites.

On the other hand, incivility leads to deteriorated communication that is negative for patients. Since healthcare professionals’ morale is affected, they are less motivated to cooperate with patients. PTSD, emotional problems, reduced organizational commitments, and others lead to the fact that individuals do not receive adequate care and support. This situation is also challenging because the issues adversely affect patients’ emotions. The rationale behind this statement is that productive communication between healthcare professionals and patients is of significance for the latter since it allows them to become aware of their health status and treatment success.

Current Initiatives

Since the information above has explained that incivility in the workplace implies adverse consequences, some organizations offer specific initiatives to address the problem. On the one hand, the ANA (2015) offers multiple prevention recommendations for registered nurses and employers. Thus, registered nurses are expected to have a commitment to establishing productive interprofessional relationships, address perpetrators of bullying privately, and report an incident of incivility through the appropriate channels (ANA, 2015). These three recommendations cover primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of addressing the problem. Simultaneously, employers should ensure that their organizations emphasize safety and respect, promote leadership, and do not ignore reports of incivility (ANA, 2015). These initiatives can be effective in minimizing incidents of incivility in the organization.

In addition to the ANA, individual healthcare organizations can implement their own procedures, and my organization is not an exception. It refers to regular educational interventions that help healthcare professionals gain sufficient knowledge and skills to identify and manage incivility. Simulation activities are used to ensure that the participants have absorbed the theoretical information. Armstrong (2018) offers scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of such an intervention. That is why it is possible to mention that my organization relies on evidence-based practice to ensure that incivility does not create fundamental challenges to healthcare delivery.


The paper has demonstrated that workplace incivility is a significant challenge for the whole healthcare industry. The rationale behind this claim is that this phenomenon adversely impacts nurses’ ability to use high-level clinical judgment, individual health outcomes, and communication efficiency within the profession and with patients. As a result, multiple medical errors appear, deteriorating the medical industry’s quality and safety. That is why the paper has presented current initiatives by the American Nurses Association and my organization that can be used to eliminate the problem and protect patients.


American Nurses Association. (2015). Incivility, bullying, and workplace violence. Web.

Armstrong, N. (2018). Management of nursing workplace incivility in the health care settings: A systematic review. Workplace Health & Safety, 66(8), 403-410. Web.

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