Conflict Management Health Care setting

Health care organizations like any other institutions is not immune to conflict, and the sources of problems are often the same in every workplace environment. To successfully resolve issues in any setting, one must first determine the root cause or causes.

Resource limitation
Coping with changes (Hewes & Costilla, n.d.)

Some of the suggested reasons for conflicts especially in the healthcare setting as indicated by the two previous slides include: inequitable allocation of resources among teams the chief of which are nurses; inadequate staff knowledge of management expectations; and changes that staff sometimes view as disruptive (Improving Teamwork: Collaboration, Coordination and conflict resolution, 2016).

The calm before the storm

MBA (2014) has indicated that conflict development involves four phases (as cited in Finkelman, 2016). The first phase, referred to as latent conflict is similar to the calm that precedes as storm.

(Kanth, 2013)

In healthcare for example, a hospital unit's lack of the necessary tools or insufficient staff needed to deliver the quality of care mandated, can cause personnel to expect conflict situations which can create added stress or tension on the unit and with staff of other units. The perceived and felt conflict phases involve individual awareness, and emotions respectively. The felt conflict phase may create added stress as staff may become anxious, annoyed, or irritated if they choose not to ignore the situation. (Improving Teamwork: Collaboration, Coordination and conflict resolution, 2016)

Aggressive interaction

The next phase described as manifest conflict, is where the situation escalates to the point where the behavior of staff becomes aggressive, hostile or obstructive (Improving Teamwork: Collaboration, Coordination and conflict resolution, 2016). Manifest conflict if not dealt with quickly, can cause harm the organization. Resolution becomes harder when there is poor leadership or the leader is unable to get staff with different personalities to act professionally, cooperate , or respect each other (McKibben, 2017). Per Dorn, Marcus, and McNulty (2013), conflict has always been a part of the nations health care system because of the existence of different facets and players with different interests. In spite of the conflicting interests of the different players, not to mention the conflict among staff in healthcare organizations, conflict resolution has not been a part of the learning curriculum of schools that graduate health care professionals (Dorn, Marcus, & McNulty, 2013).

Managing conflict (Khanzadeh , 2015)

Managing conflict should be a priority for leaders of health care organizations. There should be an HR policy in place to manage conflict and it should have the following objectives: "elimination or reduction; meeting family or relative, patient, and organization needs; ensure parties involved feels positive about the resolution" (Finkelman, 2016, p. 327).

The case study on page 331 of Finkelman (2016) involving a nurse and a surgical resident is an example of a conflict situation that can occur in any healthcare organization but which could have been avoided if the nurse manager was more proactive in managing the situation. Even though the nurse manager was responsible for encouraging cooperation, and proper communication among the OR staff, she did nothing to improve the poor communication problems between her nurses and physicians for over six months. The problems led to conflict that was allowed to progress from the latent stage to the felt conflict stage where nurses started to feel like their rights, opinions, and the challenges they faced did not matter. Things became worse as the nurse manager allowed the situation to escalate to the manifest conflict stage. This stage was evidenced by obstructive behavior which included reduced quality of care, 25% increase in number of nurses calling out, and open aggressive and disrespectful communication between a nurse and a resident.

It is apparent that the nurse manager's approach to the problem was not in line with the major goals of conflict management especially the swift elimination or reduction of the conflict, and meeting needs of patients (Finkelman, 2016). Further evidence of the poor leadership of the nurse manager was evidenced by the fact that even though she apparently had a good cooperative relationship with the medical director for the OR, she neglected to inform her about the behavior of the during the preceding six months.

Resolving conflict

My suggestion to resolve the conflict in the case study would involve a five step approach. The firs step would be to get the resident, the nurse, the nurse manager and the OR medical director together in a meeting. The nurse and the resident should then be advised to address each other with respect. The next step should involve questioning and listening carefully to both parties to gather information about the real cause or issues that led to the problem. Once the parties verbalize their issues, the next step should involved getting them to agree to the problem and cautioning them to put aside self interest in favor of what is best for the OR unit. After this the parties should be asked for suggested solutions, and then informed about management's solution (Bisk Education, 2017). If the parties suggestion have merit they may become a part of the solution. Because the behavior of both parties was openly hostile, I think they should both be subject to disciplinary action. Both managers should also inform the staff that future problems be brought to their attention as soon as possible, and that future aggressive or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated.

Conflict resolution process should terminate with both parties apologizing, and shaking hands.
Created By
Sharon Lewis


Created with images by Office of Governor Dan Malloy - "Visiting nurses at Backus Hospital" • Roger Blackwell - "4 of the earliest Junior Doctors outside Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NNUH A3" • Unsplash - "fishing rocks oceans"

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