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Dealing with conflict


Working together

Why is it important to appropriately handle conflict?


  • Conflict can affect the delivery of safe, quality care to patients.
  • While those involved may not always concur on a diagnosis or plan of action, it is important that there is an openness to discussion.
  • Know to whom you can turn if there is conflict with the potential to interfere with safe patient care.

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  • Pregnant female in labour
    A PGY1 obstetrics resident has just arrived for a shift. One of the patients has been induced at term because of high blood pressure and slight proteinuria.
  • Resident and nurse in discussion
    Resident: "I really don't like the look of this tracing, but my attending told me to increase the oxytocin." Nurse: "We tried telling him that the tracing was not great, too. I think he'll get really angry if anyone calls him back."
  • Newborn baby in distress
    The baby is born 45 minutes later with a cord pH of 6.8 and Apgar scores of 0, 1, 3 at 1, 5 and 10 minutes respectively. The baby survives but is left with a profound neurological deficit.
  • Scales of Justice
    The parents start a legal action. Experts are critical of the resident, nurses, and attending physician. The case is settled.

Think about it

How you would handle a conflict between yourself and your supervisor?

Would you do anything differently if the conflict were between you and a nurse?