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Conflict Management in Healthcare Facilities


Conflict can be defined as a process where one party observes that its welfare is negatively impacted by another. Handling conflict in the workstation consumes time but is an important task for health care leaders. Conflict may take place amid doctors and other members of staff, and amidst the health care personnel and the patients or their relatives. Conflict may vary from disparities to major disagreements, which may lead to lawsuit or hostility. Conflicts have a high impact on working efficiency, working spirit, and patient care, thus limiting health care providers’ contribution. Heads of different health faculties must effectively resolve the issues of conflict in their areas as health care leaders are not immune (Ahmed & Morsy, 2008). It would befit hospital directors to learn to identify the precursors of conflict for them to prevent any unpleasant impacts.

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Description of the Unresolved Conflict

In a given hospital in the United States, family members of particular patients demanded quality care from healthcare leaders when they were informed by the sick that some of their requirements were not being attended to suitably. Since some patients can only express their needs clearly in their local language, as they expressed themselves well in their mother tongue, they reported problems with the provided care to their family members who understood the same language (Brinkert, 2010). The family members took on the task of translating, whereby they assisted the healthcare leaders in knowing about the patients’ concerns. The medical supervisors who had visited the hospital some hours before raised related inquiries and left some questionnaires for the health professionals to respond to and submit. The family members’ demands stimulated frustration amid the staff as most of their requests were not urgent, and they had a huge workload. These conflicts diminished the family members’ faith in health care providers. The healthcare leaders became confused about which task to commence with; by this, they took a lot of time to solve demands for both parties. The Man vs. Man conflict was exacerbated by the annoyance of the health professionals, and the family members were left stranded as they waited for an action to be taken by the health leaders (Yildirim & Aycan, 2008).

Explanation of the Conflict

The conflict arose amid health leaders, nurses, and doctors; this resulted in the healthcare leaders trying to force them to administer care as demanded by the patients and their family members. The conflict worsened as the nurses and doctors did not agree on which task to commence with, and the leaders were demanding patients’ and family members’ interests be handled first. On the other side, the nurses and doctors were arguing that responding to inquiries by the supervisors was an urgent matter. The encounter between family members’ emotional aggravation and healthcare leaders’ slow response resulted in conflict. Healthcare leaders found it difficult to have to deal with expressive forms of behavior and become hassled. This situation was reflected in their reserved conservation and attitude towards family members when they were expressing their issues. Sadly, before an agreement was reached, a patient died, which created a negative image towards health leaders by family members and other patients.

The Four Stages of a Conflict

The best method to resolve a conflict is by first recognizing that it exists. There are four stages of the conflict in the health sector. The initial stage is regarded as the Latent stage; this is where people are in a situation that they are not aware of an existing conflict (Finkelman, 2015). This stage was experienced when the family members assumed that the patients had been abandoned, and that created a negative image towards healthcare leaders. Since the health leaders were reluctant to attend to the relatives’ demands, the conflict continued advancing. The second stage is referred to as the perceived stage; this is when the parties involved in a conflict become completely aware of its existence, and a complaint is taken to the management for them to speak with the health professionals involved about it (Mahon & Nicotera, 2011). In this case, the visitors and the family members presented their demands for handling by the healthcare professionals. The healthcare leaders took the initiative and called the nurses and doctors involved to discuss it.

The third stage is the felt stage, where stress and anxieties are experienced by either one or more parties to the conflict (Finkelman, 2015). The management and other stakeholders do not like initiating a problem, and the health professionals do not enjoy being under inspection. In this case, the health leaders were trying to solve the problem by approaching the nurses and doctors, while the health professionals were trying to defend themselves by affirmations that they were already handling the urgent demands (Mahon & Nicotera, 2011). However, the truth is that the supervisors’ demands were not urgent, and the health professionals were only worried about losing their job, which led to the health leaders proposing that the concerns raised by the family members be handled first.

The last stage is the manifest stage, which occurs when there is at least a result of the conflict; this could either be a resolution or dissolution (Finkelman, 2015). The management corrects the mistake and takes suitable measures to assure of no repeat of the same in the future. In this occurrence, dissolution was reached with the death of one patient, as the health leaders tried to solve the problem but were unable to reach the resolution promptly. Managing conflict in an effective method leads to improved quality of health care, patient safety, and boosts health professionals’ morale, in addition to reducing the difficulties experienced by caregivers. The health care management should overcome this challenge thoroughly as it seeks to improve working relations, which are critical for the health professionals to function efficiently (Brinkert, 2010). To handle situations of conflict, healthcare leaders should have the necessary skills to assist them effectively. For instance, open and clear forums for communication should be created to comprehend areas of differences. Conflict resolution is an important component of a smooth working environment as good conversation and cooperation leads to improved patient care.

Strategies for Conflict Resolution

Health care leaders should be in a position of assessing how health care providers address conflict in the healthcare environment in an attempt to create and bettering conflict administration training and ways that could enhance solving challenging situations. Professional code of service and medical workers’ bylaws should be established in a healthcare environment. General knowledge of this domain could frequently enhance resolution at a lower level. Furthermore, everyone should comprehend that there exist firm limitations to unsuitable behavior. Nevertheless, comprehending the occurrence of a conflict essentially results in its prevention. Health leaders should also avoid ignoring matters of urgency, failing to maintain promises made, seeking to shun responsibility for one’s mistakes, and acting contrary to the policies put in place (Chan, Sit, & Lau, 2014).

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Conflict resolution is a normative procedure of human conduct and is an essential element of cooperation. The ultimate objectives of healthcare providers are to improve the quality of care given to patients, concentrate on individual values and strategies, and uphold committed and experienced leadership in the healthcare domain (Yildirim & Aycan, 2008). It is important that teachings learned from the experience of an effective conflict management approach be used in the creation of excellent healthcare (Ahmed & Morsy, 2008). Management and staff commitment to problem-solving can improve the rate of service provided to patients at the appropriate time and at a lower cost. Therefore, management skills and operations are crucial in the provision of better service.


Demonstrative intellect has been acknowledged as essential not only to be an effective leader but also to be successful in life. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, administration of emotions, understanding people, and motivating them. Skillful healthcare leaders should be in a position of effectively resolving conflicts with the application of both general and learned skills for a smooth running of the health care environment. Interpersonal relations should be enhanced to ensure comprehension of other people, their sources of inspiration, and to build strategies on successful collaboration. This does not only empowers leaders to understand their staff, but it also enhances comprehension and recognition of their tasks for facilitated success. Healthcare leaders should at all times remain cool, evade direct blame, value the health of patients, and be effective listeners and communicators to prevent future conflicts.


Ahmed, A. M., & Morsy, S. (2008). The role of organizational climate in conflict management among nursing personnel working at Assiut University Hospital. The Medical Journal of Cairo University, 76(4), 107-119.

Brinkert, R. (2010). A literature review of conflict communication causes, costs, benefits and interventions in nursing. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(2), 145-156

Chan, J. C., Sit, E. N., & Lau, W. M. (2014). Conflict management styles, emotional intelligence and implicit theories of personality of nursing students: A cross-sectional study. Nurse Education Today, 34(6), 934-939.

Finkelman, A. (2015). Leadership and management for nurses: Core competencies for quality care. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, United States: Pearson.

Mahon, M. M., & Nicotera, A. M. (2011). Nursing and conflict communication: Avoidance as preferred strategy. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 35(2), 152-163.

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Yildirim, D., & Aycan, Z. (2008). Nurses’ work demands and work–family conflict: A questionnaire survey. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45(9), 1366-1378.

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