Perioperative Bullying Reduces Nurses' Effectiveness

Workplace empowerment of staff and zero tolerance policy can combat lateral violence
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- The perioperative setting is vulnerable to workplace bullying, but interventions to eliminate intimidating and unsettling behavior among nursing staff can help eliminate the problem, according to an article published in the April issue of the AORN Journal.

Lorraine Bigony, R.N., of Frankford Hospital in Langhorne, Pa., and colleagues write that lateral violence in the perioperative setting includes nonverbal and verbal abuse or innuendo, withholding of information, infighting, sabotaging, scapegoating, invasion of privacy, and betrayal of confidences. Such behavior has been acknowledged as toxic to the nursing workplace, they note.

The perioperative setting is commonly one in which nurses fall prey to bullying by coworkers because it is an inherently stressful environment traditionally isolated from other facilities, with patients requiring acute care and where understaffing often imposes high demands on staff, the authors state.

"Whether perpetrated by physicians, administrators, or colleagues, bullying behaviors have been identified as a routine part of operating room culture," the authors write. "Nursing colleagues must begin to address lateral violence in the perioperative setting. A multidisciplinary buy-in with support from the administration, however, is imperative for success. Continuing education with the aim of increasing awareness, together with a zero tolerance policy, should be the standard for all health care organizations."

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