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A Strategic Approach for Managing Conflict in Hospitals: Responding to the Joint Commission Leadership Standard, Part 1

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Background: The Joint Commission's leadership standard for conflict management in hospitals, LD.02.04.01, states, "The hospital manages conflict between leadership groups to protect the quality and safety of care." This standard is one of numerous standards and alerts issued by The Joint Commission that address conflict and communication. They underscore the significant impact of relational dynamics on patient safety and quality of care and the critical need for a strategic approach to conflict in health care organizations. Whether leadership conflicts openly threaten a major disruption of hospital operations or whether unresolved conflicts lurk beneath the surface of daily interactions, unaddressed conflict can undermine a hospital's efforts to ensure safe, high-quality patient care.

Developing a Strategic Approach to Conflict Management: How leaders manage organizational conflict has a significant impact on achieving strategic objectives. Aligning conflict management approaches with quality and safety goals is the first step in adopting a strategic approach to conflict management. A strategic approach goes beyond reducing costs of litigation or improving grievance processes—it integrates a collaborative mind-set and individual conflict competency with nonadversarial processes.

Undertaking a Conflict Assessment: Conflict assessment should determine how conflicts are handled among the leaders at the hospital, the degree of conflict competence already present among the leaders, where the most significant conflicts occur, and how leaders think a conflict management system might work for them.

Conclusions: Strategically aligning a conflict management approach that addresses conflict among leadership groups as a means of protecting the quality and safety of patient care is at the heart of LD.02.04.01.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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