Lateral Violence Essay

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Definition of Lateral Violence

There isn't a universally common definition for lateral violence. In fact, the same vice is also variously referred to as horizontal violence, bullying, work place violence and nursing incivility. According to the American Nursing Association (2011), lateral violence refers to verbal, emotional or physical abuse. Indeed, lateral violence is a common phenomenon in nursing practice. It is both a costly practice to the healthcare organization and the individual nurse's mental and physical health. The incident of lateral violence compromises the healthcare quality within a facility where it occurs. Consequently, poor patient health outcomes are observed (Hill, 2014). This study aims at exploring the effects of lateral violence on healthcare, and establishing its relevance to nursing practice.

In precise terms, lateral violence is disruptive. It is a phenomenon that destroys the people and objectives of healthcare provision. Lateral violence is inappropriate and disruptive conduct by an employee within a healthcare environment. Such behavior may be directed towards an employee at the same level or a junior member of staff. Although, sometimes, such behavior is openly shown by certain employees, often, it is subtle, quietly meted and repeated. It gets worse over time. If observed in isolation, such behavior may seem harmless at first glance. However, cumulatively, the aggressive behavior and insults amount to seriously harmful practices to the nurses they are directed at (Christie & Jones, 2014).

LV shows a consistent pattern of behavior that is deliberately designed to demean and undermine peer members' self-esteem. It may also be directed at a group. Verbal abuse is a more common phenomenon. It includes all forms of professional and personal mistreatment and violence. Lateral violence refers to both the overt and covert behavior aimed at demeaning other healthcare workers. Covert LV is the most destructive. Covert behavior with lateral violence effects include sarcastic comments, assignments that are given unfairly, ignoring colleagues, eye-rolling, making faces behind one's back, whining, sighing, declining to assist colleagues; even when time and space allows; exclusion, sabotage, fabrication and isolation (Embree & White, 2010). Other behaviors with similar effect include withholding information, scapegoating, infighting within groups, gossiping, and intrusive behavior that fails to respect the privacy of others (Roberts, 2015).

The Prevalence and Incidence of Lateral Violence

It has been noted that Nursing is the primary job type at the most risk of lateral violence. Research shows that between 44% and 85% of healthcare staffs are exposed to lateral violence. Indeed, 93% of nurses have testified that they have observed lateral violence at the work place. The occurrence of lateral violence is usually perpetrated by experienced nurses, while the novice nurses are, often, the victims.
Nursing students and the nurses that have been newly licensed are the most affected in these situations. Owing to the prevalence of this practice, it has become almost acceptable within nursing environs. Therefore, it usually goes unreported (Christie & Jones, 2014).

Accurate data showing the incidence of lateral violence in nursing circles is, widely, unavailable. Nevertheless, more recent reports show that the vice is widespread, and ranges from 65% to 80%; judging from the nurses that were surveyed. A research conducted among students in junior nursing illustrates that lateral violence incidents happens as soon as the first interaction between the student nurse and the experienced nurse they are meant to work under or with. Graduate nurses encounter LV, and reported a high absenteeism rate. Some of them even contemplated quitting the profession (Becher & Visovsky, 2012). It is also noted that LV extends to other staff within the healthcare settings. It may also involve doctors and staffing supervisors who were found to represent 49.1% and 26.9% respectively. Yet, it has also been found that lateral violence is not a preserve of lateral positioning. The vice has been noted to extend from nursing fraternity leadership to other staff under supervision (Becher & Visovsky, 2012).

The Impact of Lateral Violence

There are many negative effects of lateral violence. There is a generally, reduced sense of good health and wellbeing. There are persistent complaints related to health, and symptoms of depression. The negative perception of nurses makes them, and the general world around them, heightened. They are observed to adopt strategies that are largely ineffective to manage their state of mind and problems that come with it. More signs of disturbance include disturbance of sleep, and suicidal tendencies or anxiety. Indeed, some may manifest all these characteristics and even show symptoms of post-traumatic stress complications. The nurses that have undergone LV experiences do not trust their organization. They also show a lower level of job satisfaction. The chances of such nurses leaving their profession are significantly high. Poor communication and decreased productivity are the inevitable effects (Christie & Jones, 2014).

Nurses have been widely seen as a group that is oppressed because they lack control and power at their places of work. The situation might have been caused by the fact that there has been dominance of the medical profession since the transition of nursing care from home to healthcare facilities. Nurses inherited this unfortunate setup because they work in….....

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American Nurses Association. (2011). Lateral violence and bullying in nursing. Retrieved from

Becher, J., & Visovsky, C. (2012). Horizontal violence in nursing. Medsurg nursing, 21(4), 210.

Christie, W.& Jones, S. (2014). Lateral violence in nursing and the theory of the nurse as wounded healer. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 18(4).

Embree, J. L., & White, A. H. (2010). Concept analysis: Nurse-to-nurse lateral violence. In Nursing forum (Vol. 45, No. 3, pp. 166-173). Blackwell Publishing Inc.

Hill, A. (2014). Lateral Violence Experienced by Nurses in the Workplace.

Roberts, S. J. (2015). Lateral violence in nursing: a review of the past three decades. Nursing science quarterly, 28(1), 36-41.

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