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Poor Staff Management During the Pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic imposed a tremendous burden on healthcare institutions and medical workers. This research paper aims to determine what ethical values were violated by inefficient staffing and how cultural stereotypes impacted the emotional state of doctors and nurses. The lack of adequate management in hospitals resulted in breaching ethical norms. For example, whistleblowing about the shortage of personal protective equipment at the beginning of the pandemic resulted in some clinicians being suspended from work. Furthermore, the moral distress among hospital staff due to ineffective management led to the loss of trust in their leaders. Moreover, age stereotypes impeded the recruitment of new staff to release stress and pressure from the overworked personnel. Misinformation about the virus resulted in the social stigmatization of infected healthcare workers even after they underwent required isolation. Resolving these issues should start by employing young graduates to spread accurate information about the virus to reduce stereotyping. Finally, hospital administrators should provide psychological support to their staff to reduce burnout rate, increase productivity, and improve patient outcomes.

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Keywords: COVID-19, staff management, healthcare workers, ethics, stereotyping

Poor Management of Staff Has Hindered the Quality of Care During the Pandemic

The current coronavirus pandemic caused a significant disturbance to the global economy, people’s lives, and hospitals. Specifically, healthcare practitioners who worked on the frontlines to help those affected by COVID-19 were overworked, burned out, and distressed. Moreover, many ethical and regulatory issues in staff management in medical organizations became more pronounced. For example, the shortage of personal protective equipment for clinicians at the beginning of the pandemic exposed them to a significant risk of being infected and caused a severe emotional disturbance. Therefore, the first research question in this paper aims to investigate what ethical norms were violated in hospital staffing during the pandemic. Furthermore, the social stigmatization of infected people with this virus resulted in distress and reduced productivity. The second research question is, what stereotypes became the obstacle to better administration in healthcare institutions? It appears that such ethical issues as a violation of human rights by hospital administration and cultural stereotyping negatively impacted medical workers’ well-being and performance, worsening patient outcomes.

Research Question 1: What Ethical Issues Resulted in Poor Staff Management?

Regulatory issues in healthcare organizations violated ethical values that harmed medical personnel and patients. For example, hospitals lacked enough personal protective equipment for the staff; thus, many of them were at an increased risk of being infected, developing the disease, and spreading the virus among their family members (Turale et al., 2020). Nurses, who tried to raise this issue on social media, were silenced or released from their duties (Turale et al., 2020). This situation was an example of a clear violation of the Code of Ethics that requires providing all the necessary protection to employees at any workplace (Turale et al., 2020). Although Ethics Committees exist in all American hospitals, they are more concerned with patient cases than clinicians’ complaints (Patel et al., 2021). Still, suspending the central workforce from hospitals to avoid public scandal is unethical and dangerous for community health, especially in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Incompetent staff management during the pandemic led to a decreased trust in hospital authorities. Moreover, ineffective administration in hospitals resulted in staff shortages, longer shifts, and increased workload for medical personnel (Donkers et al., 2021). Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a high number of patients did not allow them to provide appropriate emotional support to sick people, causing depression and loss of trust in hospital leaders (Donkers et al., 2021). Although the pandemic was disturbing to all countries and governments, some healthcare organizations’ administrators violated one of the essential ethical norms, responsible behavior. Indeed, they failed to provide workplace safety to hospital employees, suspended them from work during the increased need for medical staff, and did not give appropriate emotional support to their team of workers.

Research Question 2: What Cultural Values Influenced This Issue?

Stereotyping is a common hidden problem in healthcare organizations too. Some cultural beliefs block specific improvements in hospitals and may cause emotional disturbance among staff. Stereotypes and stigma place a negative label on a person, setting the one apart from the group (Ramaci et al., 2020). For example, stigmatization by age still happens in healthcare institutions, valuing younger staff less than older personnel because youth is often viewed as lazy and irresponsible (Gharzai et al., 2020). Indeed, stereotyping by age prevent hospital administration from hiring young graduates due to a lack of clinical experience, which results in a shortage of staff and increased working hours for older employees.

Another type of stereotyping was caused by dangerous ignorance about the disease, viral clearance, and infectivity. It is widely known that after two-week isolation, a person who was infected with the SARS-CoV-2 is no longer infectious and can return to work, maintaining necessary precautions such as wearing masks and gloves. Furthermore, once the PCR test for the virus is negative, a person does not spread the disease. However, many healthcare workers who became infected with this virus at work and had to undergo quarantine measures were exposed to social stigmatization (Ramaci et al., 2020). Specifically, the most common reactions to these people and their families were fear and avoidance, causing more stress and burnout in hospital workers (Ramaci et al., 2020). Indeed, stereotyping is a critical problem in healthcare that should be eradicated because it “is associated with psychological and physical health” among clinicians who “reported increased psychological distress” and “somatic symptoms” due to stigmatization (Ramaci et al., 2020, p. 8). Therefore, hospital managers should ensure that staff receives proper emotional support during the pandemic to maintain high performance and improve patient outcomes.

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Resolving Regulatory Issues in Hospitals to Meet Ethical Norms

The two main recommendations for improving staff management in hospitals are hiring more healthcare workers and providing psychological support to medical personnel. Recruiting young people to reduce misinformation about COVID-19 can solve the problem of stigmatization of people who were infected (Gharzai et al., 2020). Furthermore, employing young graduates and providing onsite training can reduce the workload in hospitals, improving patient care. Moreover, it is vital to monitor healthcare workers’ physical and mental health to give timely assistance to prevent adverse consequences and avoid violating the Code of Ethics (Donkers et al., 2021). The ongoing pandemic inflicted enormous stress on clinicians, making them handle the shortage of protective equipment, medications, and ventilators. Still, millions of people worldwide, armed with conspiracy theories, fail to adhere to social distancing measures and refuse vaccination. Although this problem should be solved at the level of government, health practitioners can also be involved in spreading accurate and evidence-based information, provided they are adequately supported by hospital administration.


To sum up, regulatory problems in healthcare organizations during the pandemic resulted in the violation of ethical values and norms, causing significant distress to clinicians. The shortage of personal protective equipment in hospitals at the pandemic’s beginning imposed a tremendous risk on staff’s safety and health. Furthermore, the administrators’ attempt to silence healthcare workers who strived to raise this issue was a violation of the Code of Ethics. Another critical problem that became prominent during COVID-19 is a shortage of staff in hospitals due to the inefficient process of recruiting new employees. Specifically, cultural stereotypes about young people, who are believed to be irresponsible and lazy, prevent managers from hiring them, leaving older personnel with more duties and less rest. Moreover, the lack of appropriate protection resulted in a growth in the number of coronavirus-infected clinicians who became the target of cultural stigmatization. Social stigma produces psychological distress and burnout among medical personnel who struggle for the lives of their patients every day. Therefore, clinical workers should receive psychological support during the pandemic to help improve their well-being and improve patient outcomes.


Donkers, M. A., Gilissen, V. J., Candel, M. J., van Dijk, N. M., Kling, H., Heijnen-Panis, R., Pragt, E., van der Horst, I., Pronk, S.A., & van Mook, W. N. (2021). Moral distress and ethical climate in intensive care medicine during COVID-19: A nationwide study. BMC Medical Ethics, 22(1), 1-12.

Gharzai, L. A., Beeler, W. H., & Jagsi, R. (2020). Playing into stereotypes: Engaging millennials and generation Z in the COVID-19 pandemic response. Advances in Radiation Oncology, 5(4), 679-681.

Patel, L., Elliott, A., Storlie, E., Kethireddy, R., Goodman, K., & Dickey, W. (2021). Ethical and legal challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic: Are we thinking about rural hospitals? The Journal of Rural Health, 37(1), 175–178.

Ramaci, T., Barattucci, M., Ledda, C., & Rapisarda, V. (2020). Social stigma during COVID-19 and its impact on HCWs outcomes. Sustainability, 12(9), 1-13.

Turale, S., Meechamnan, C., & Kunaviktikul, W. (2020). Challenging times: Ethics, nursing and the COVID‐19 pandemic. International Nursing Review, 67(2), 164-167.

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