Disrespectful behaviors of health care professionals.


This picture was taken in one of the residents at University of Western Cape(UWC). This plant caught my eye because of the way it was isolated from the rest of the vegetation. It stood alone surrounded by walls of buildings that had a fence that seemed incomplete, it had a gap that leads to the plant. This for me illustrated how patients feel about the disrespectful behavior of health care professionals towards them, when they visit the hospital for regular check ups, fetching their medication or when they have been hospitalized. While the walls and the fence with a gap around this plant reflect on the complexity of the South African Health Care System. This gap in the fence shows that the health care system is not all good has it seems. In the eyes of patients in South Africa, there is a gap. Lastly the weathering flowers at the top show the decline in patients health because they fear the humiliation and disrespect they receive from health care professionals, so they no longer visit health Facilities.

The reason for this decline is from what patients have to endure, the waiting game , shuffling between a cold hospital bench and steel chairs in winding queues to receive help, being admitted in hospital thats  surrounded by lonely walls, and to being disrespected by health care professionals. This leaves patients feeling alone, isolated and so small that they want to crawl back from where they came from like this isolated plant. They are humiliated by health care professionals,  therefore their health slowly deteriorate has they will avoid any contact with a health institution.  According to Mathew Grissinger, Disrespect causes the recipient to experience fear, anger, shame, confusion and a whole host of physical ailments such as insomnia, fatigue and nausea. It also creates an unhealthy or hostile work environment, causing some to abandon their profession and ultimately harm patients. Grissinger M.,(2017)

In a 2008 study, more than 4500 nurses, physicians and other health care professionals from 102 hospitals. 70% of respondents reported a link between disrespectful behaviors and medical errors and poor-quality patient care; more than 65% linked the behavior to an adverse event and more then 50% reported that patients safety had been compromised; and more than 25% linked the behaviors with patient mortality like the weathering leaves of this plant .Buppert C. , MSD, JD; (2006)

Disrespectful behaviors can be addressed by establishing a steering committee of trustees, senior leaders, middle managers, physicians etc. The committee must educate itself about disrespectful behavior towards patients, define the behavior by creating awareness amongst health care professionals because Health Care organizations have fed the problem of disrespectful behavior for years by ignoring it, thereby always accepting such behaviors. Studies have shown that disrespectful behavior are tolerated mostly in unfavorable work environment. To eliminate this is by creating a healthy working environment, establish action plan and inspire others to change. Clear communication, informed consent and respectful treatment are not optional. Esposita L. (2014) 


Buppert C, MSD, JD , Jan 21 (2016) What has happened to respect in health care ? Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/06/12/your-rights-as-a-hospital-patient 

Esposita L.,  Your rights as a hospital patient. June 12,2014 Retrieved From: https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/06/12/your-rights-as-a-hospital-patient

Grissinger M. Unresolved disrespectful behavior in health care: Practitioners speak up (again) – part 1. P.T. 2017; 42(1) ; 4-5. 23 [ PMC] [PubMed][google scholar] Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5265230/#!po=2.27273 



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One thought on “Disrespectful behaviors of health care professionals.

  1. Hi Londeka. Thanks for the opportunity to give you some feedback on your writing. I liked the attempt to look at the health system through the lens of something that is alive and growing, as I think that these kinds of metaphors can give us different perspectives on things. However, I think that the metaphor breaks down a bit as the links are not always clear. For example, it’s not clear to me how the roots of the plant show how patients feel isolated and abandoned. What is it about roots that make you think of isolation? Another example is the link between the picture of the plant and patients being kept waiting all day. The same with the falling flowers…what is it about the flowers falling off the tree that demonstrates uncertainty? Maybe you need to reconsider the metaphor and try to more clearly link the components/tree system to what you’re trying to say about the health system.

    I also wonder if your post tries to do too much (i.e. cover too many topics within the health system) without giving any real suggestions for what can be done. Maybe if you tried to narrow the focus of the post to one particular aspect of the health system, you may find that it’s easier to link the two different ideas.

    Some of the claims you make are vague and it’s not really clear what point you’re trying to make. For example, what exactly is the problem that you’re trying to highlight in this post? What parts of the health system are failing and what evidence can you provide that they are? I think it would be useful for you to pick a very specific problem that is relevant to a patient within the system, rather than looking at the system as a whole. This may also help you to link the patient perspective to the plant/tree system you’re using as a metaphor.

    I also wonder if you’re really looking at the health system from the point of view of a patient, or if it’s from your own perspective.

    Finally, I thought that you could’ve made better use of the references you cite, as you only include one in-text citation, and it’s not even clear that that citation is the same as the one in your reference list. This also means that the claims you make in your post aren’t really supported with evidence.

    Again, I enjoyed reading the post and like the idea of using a living system (i.e. the tree) to look at the health system. I hope that my comments are useful and wish you all the best for your final submission.

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