Sample Essay on Managing Conflict in Healthcare Organizations

Conflict exists in every work environment and has both positive and negative effects in the work environment (Eunson, 2007). Conflicts occur when groups or individuals have disagreements about ideas, perceptions, opinions or beliefs (Eunson, 2007). In hospitals and other health institutions, there are various forms of conflict that are experienced.

Forms of conflict in hospitals and health institutions
Interpersonal conflict

This form of conflict arises when two or more nurses in a hospital or healthcare organization fail to agree on matters that relate to the work they are doing (Harrington et al., 2008). Examples that occur in hospitals are:

  • Some nurses and other staff want shorter shifts than others just because they have families and the others do not.
  • Disagreement between a nurse and a doctor on the types of medication that the patient should be given (Eunson, 2007).
Intragroup Conflict

This form of conflict occurs between employees placed in the same department or team in the health institutions (Lynch, 2008). Some examples are:

  • A nurse in a department refuses to answer another nurse’s call when he/she is held up (Lynch, 2008).
  • A nurse or doctor ignoring another colleague when asked something.
  • Passive and aggressive behavior by a doctor to the other doctors in the same department (Lynch, 2008).
Intergroup Conflict

Intergroup conflict arises between two rival departments in a hospital or a health care institution (Schulz et al., 2003). The groups in the hospitals interrelate to achieve the institution’s goals. When these goals are not compatible between the departments, intergroup conflict occurs (Schulz, 2003). A good example is when reception nurses feel that the lab nurses are delaying in providing them with some vital information (Schulz, 2003).

Intrapersonal conflict

This is a type of conflict that occurs within an individual (Eunson, 2007). This type of conflict leaves the employees in the hospitals and health institutions in a dilemma. An example of such a conflict can be seen when a nurse wants to further her studies but lacks the resources and time to do so (Eunson, 2007).

Impacts of conflict

Conflicts impede the growth of the Health care institution (Lynch, 2008). When there is conflict among the employees, there will be tension when carrying out their designated work in the hospitals. This will strain the operations since there will be a strained cooperation between the employees due to the conflicts. Any organization undergoing strained cooperation among the employees is always bound to fail in achieving its goals and targets.

Conflicts observed within the hospitals and Health care institutions will scare away patients from those institutions (Harrington et al., 2008).When patients observe and see that there are many conflicts in the hospitals, then this will reduce their confidence in being able to get the best treatment in that hospital. They will opt to go to other hospitals where there is minimal conflict.

Conflicts in a hospital reduce the level of patient care (Lynch, 2008). In case if inter-group conflict; a nurse cannot attend to a needy patient if the nurse in charge is held up. He/she will just ignore saying that it is not his/her duty. Thiscan cause the death ofa patient in the hospital. Such conflicts can also make response to an emergency very slow which may lead to a disaster in the hospital. Conflicts in hospitals can also lead to doctors and nurses seeking transfer elsewhere or even quitting due to the hostile environment (Lynch, 2008). This will cause a shortage in the manpower in the hospital or health care centers.


Eunson, B. (2007). Conflict management. Milton, Qld: Wiley.

Harrington, C., & Estes, C. L. (2008). Health policy: Crisis and reform in the U.S. health care delivery system. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Pub.

Lynch, H. F. (2008). Conflicts of conscience in health care: An institutional compromise. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Schulz, R., & Johnson, A. C. (2003). Management of hospitals and health services: Strategic issues and performance. Washington, D.C: Beard Books