Understanding Lateral Violence

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Understanding Lateral Violence in Nursing
Clinical Journal of Nursing June 2008

This article talks about the professional issue of lateral Violence in nursing. Lateral violence is a serious issue within the nursing profession, although it is often viewed to be a rite of passage for new nurses joining the work force. Lateral violence is also referred to as horizontal hostility, bullying, aggression, verbal abuse, or nurses eating their young (Griffin, 2004). Lateral violence (LV) can be defined as nurses either overtly or covertly directing aggression towards each other in the forms of non verbal innuendo, verbal affront, undermining activities, sabotage, scapegoating, backstabbing or withholding information (Griffin, 2004)

LV can be verbal or emotional abuse and leads to low self esteem and lack of respect for co-workers and colleagues and is prevalent in all clinical settings. Victims of LV can experience physical symptoms as well as psychological symptoms including weight loss/gain, high blood pressure, palpitations, irritable bowel, acute anxiety and depression. The result of this toxic environment is job dissatisfaction that results in higher rates of absenteeism and nurses who are so unsatisfied with their job; they would rather leave the profession than confront these issues. These behaviors are not only costly to the individual, but also to the organization and the profession of nursing. The result is a lower retention rate for organizations that have developed a reputation for tolerating LV, thus making recruitment a problem as well. Poor recruitment and retention of qualified staff is also harmful to patients because the toxic environment makes it difficult for remaining nurses to trust others and results in poor teamwork. Poor team work is dangerous to patient care. Studies show nurses who feel alienated from their colleagues are less likely to ask questions which lead to errors and accidents. Studies have also shown there are ways to stop...
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