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Nursing: Lateral Violence                               Nursing: Lateral Violence

Nursing: Lateral Violence

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For the longest time in history, nurses have reported that sabotage is a common occurrence in the operating room, a factor which may have very adverse effects on the overall job satisfaction amongst nurses. Lateral violence and bullying among professionals in the healthcare industry has also been widely reported as well as documented. Also known as horizontal violence, it relates to all kinds of negative behaviors directed by an individual towards a peer, and as a result, the person to whom the behaviors directed at experiences disrespect, harm or worse still feels devalued by the act (AMSM.org).


The type of behaviors normally experienced include bullying, gossiping, ignoring a peer, making sarcastic comments, shoving someone aside, talking behind their back or even slamming things to them deliberately with an aim of showing disrespect. As suggested by various studies carried out over numerous hospitals and health institutions, the outcome is that the behaviors reach levels where they become toxic to the nursing staff and as such the retention of quality staff in the institution is threatened. This is because the nurses to whom the violence is directed at suffer consequences including anxiety, diminished self-esteem as well as self confidence, sadness, mistrust, negative effects on general peer relationships and as stated earlier, job satisfaction. These ultimately lead to negative consequences for the healthcare organizations and more so the patients under their care (Purpora & Blegen, 2012).

The paper shall discuss lateral violence in the operating room, and how it can be reduced with the aim of improving the quality of patient care. The thesis statement is that the level of quality patient care is directly proportional to the emotional and physical wellbeing of the nurse.

Decreasing Lateral Violence in the Operating Room

From the adverse effects of lateral violence in an organization, decreasing the levels of lateral violence is very crucial if any improvement to the quality of healthcare given to patients is to be achieved. As such, there are methods to be used to totally eradicate the vice of lateral violence.

One such method is by ensuring that all members of nursing have all their basic needs met. From the theory of human motivation by Abraham Maslow, the human behavior is motivated by a number of basic needs. Among these are safety needs, which are centered on the need by the human beings to be free from physical and emotional harm. A person who believes that the world is a n unsafe place goes to the extent of believing that their emotional as well as physical well being are under threat of harm, thereby reacting to this threat by not relating to other individuals. As such, when these needs are met, then the individual develops a sense of safety to a point where they are able to relate to others in the same environment (Purpora & Blegen, 2012).

Using this factor to address the issue of lateral violence, I would instill the feeling of safety among all the staff because this would ultimately lead to more interactions with peers. The hesitation to interact may be in response to superficial threats to their emotional well-being, as they are even afraid of more lateral violence or psychological harm. This would boost self esteem of the nurses and as such none would be subjected to humiliating acts such as bullying because they would be confident enough to stand up for themselves (AMSM.org).

In addition to the above, it would be imperative to improve communication amongst members of the team in the operating room. A hindrance to effective communication is a factor known as psychological noise. This includes any thoughts or perceived ideas formulated by the recipient of the communication in advance and the same may end up blocking the incoming communication. Negative feelings towards how the communication may occur also constitute psychological noise. As such, in the vision to reduce lateral violence would be the intention to enhance the modes of communication to ensure that all nursing staff in the operating room communicate effectively, and the information is received as it was intended to be received. This would also include non-verbal communication. This would be done by use of communication experts to be sourced externally (Dunn, 2004).

Introducing a code of conduct to govern the day to day activities and interactions of the staff would also come in handy in reducing lateral violence. The code of ethics would give clear guidelines on how the nursing staff relate with patients as well as amongst themselves and their superiors. Alongside the requirements would also be penalties for any wrongdoers who fail to follow the laid down rules. In a bid to ensure the efficacy of the code of ethics, the members of staff would be involved in its formulation (Dunn, 2004). This is in line with the Center for American Nurses, which came up with a position statement ‘Lateral Violence and Bullying in the Workplace’ (Center for American Nurses, 2008). The association states that it does not condone lateral violence and bullying among nurses or between healthcare professionals in any professional healthcare setting. As such, healthcare organizations bear the responsibility of executing a zero tolerance policy in relation to disruptive behavior. This includes a professional code of conduct and educational and behavioral interventions to assist nurses in addressing disruptive behavior (AMSM.org).


Based on the thesis statement of the paper and the discussion above, quality of care to the patients is the extent to which the care given to patients increases the opportunity of meeting their needs, as well as exceeding them. As such, the patient is handled as a sensitive case while at the same being made aware of everything being done to them as they are actively involved in making decisions about the care they receive. The care should be high-quality in nature and should not result in any injury to the patient. All the above is performed by nurses and needs communication, ethics and a confident nurse for effective delivery. This therefore confirms the thesis statement that the level of quality patient care is directly proportional to the emotional and physical wellbeing of the nurse.


Academy of medical-Surgical Nurses.Healthy Work Environment Advocacy Guide. Retrieved on 15th September from http://www.amsn.org/sites/default/files/documents/practice-resources/healthy-work-environment/AMSN-HWE-Bullying.pdf Purpora, C. & Blegen, M.A. (2012).

Horizontal Violence and the Quality and Safety of Patient Care: A Conceptual Model.Nursing Research and Practice. 2012 (2012) Dunn, H. (2004).

Horizontal Violence Among Nurses in the Operating Room. AORN Journal. 78(6). 977-88

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