Amy B. Anderson
West Virginia University
Nurse-to nurse violence, also called Lateral Violence, is a common problem in the medical profession. This issue affects not only the individuals involved but the entire profession. As a result, many areas are impacted. These include the co-workers, staffing, cost- containment, and patients. Since the mid-1960s, the term “Nurses eat their young” has been a well-known but dark secret within the nursing profession (Hippeli, 2011). Although this problem has been recognized for years, it continues to be an issue that is poisoning the profession with its negative impact (Embree & White, 2010). Lateral Violence
Lateral Violence can also be called “bullying, horizontal violence aggression or nurses eating their young” (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). With Lateral Violence, nurses will project their inner frustrations onto those that are less powerful, or have low self-esteem and mainly presents in non-verbal forms (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). These frustrations manifest in many different forms such as “non-verbal innuendo, verbal affront, undermining activities, withholding information, sabotage, infighting, scape-goating, backstabbing, failure to respect privacy and broken confidences” (Embree & White, 2010). There are also covert behaviors cause the most damage and include “unfair assignments, sarcasm, eye-rolling, ignoring, making faces behind someone’s back, refusing to help, sighing, whining, refusing to work with someone, isolation, exclusion, or fabrication” (Embree & White, 2010). These behaviors in the workplace have a negative impact on the profession, but most importantly patient safety. The focus of the nurse is placed on the infighting instead of the patient.
The Impact of Lateral Violence on Nurses
There is nothing positive about this behavior. This type of environment causes many forms of suffering. It is associated with “negative job satisfaction, retention problems, and adverse health effects on employees (Simons & Mawn, 2010). This has a major impact on new nurses. The new nurse is still learning and needs positive role models and support. However, this behavior impedes that growth. The stress caused increases absence from work and new nurses wanting to leave the nursing field (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). It has been reported that Lateral Violence has caused about 60% of new graduates to leave their first nursing job within the first 6 months of being hired (Embree & White, 2010). These numbers are high and should be sending a message to higher management personnel that something is wrong. Lateral Violence also affects individuals on an emotional, physical and psychological level. Nurses can have symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fluctuations in weight, high blood pressure, palpitations, gastric problems, depression and anxiety (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). Lateral Violence can also cause nurses to develop a low self-esteem, and have low morale, which can lead to excessive absenteeism from work and wanting to leave the nursing profession altogether (Sheridan-Leos, 2008). Lateral Violence Effecting Patient Care
Patient safety and care is suffering from other stressors from the work environment. These include cost-containment, short staffing, and nurses being far too busy to spend adequate time with patients. The addition of Lateral Violence worsens the problem. The lack of communication and teamwork causes a breakdown that effects patient safety. The impaired working relationships among nurses can also cause accidents and poor work performance (Sheridan-Leos, 2008) The rate of medical errors increase due to this communication breakdown and is costly to the organizations (Nydia & Moody, 2010). Lateral Violence Effects on the Organization
The organization is also effected by Lateral Violence in the workplace. Staff leaving units due to Lateral Violence causes retention and...