AMA asks for one year hold on 'disruptive behavior' rule

Back in July, the Joint Commission issued a standard on disruptive behavior in healthcare settings, which is due to go into effect on January 1, 2009. This, however, generated a lot of controversy among physicians, who feared that the rules would be applied unfairly. Responding to these concerns, the AMA is asking for a one-year hold on the rule.

Recognizing that intimidating behavior in healthcare workers can directly affect patient health, the Joint Commission ordered healthcare institutions to make a code of conduct that defines intimidating behavior and its consequences in the workplace.

Intimidating behavior targeted by the agency can include verbal outbursts and physical threats. It can also include quietly uncooperative behaviors such as refusing to answer questions. Both types of behavior, overt and covert, interfere with communication among the healthcare team and can harm the patient, the Joint Commission noted.

The AMA House of Delegates, however, is concerned that the rule could lead to "arbitrary and capricious" enforcement of physicians. It has asked for a one-year hold to allow time to change bylaws to comply with the rule.

To learn more about the AMA's effort:
- read this AMNews piece