Lateral Violence Affects Health Care Work Environment

Education, effective leadership, and appropriate strategies help eliminate lateral violence

THURSDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Lateral violence creates an unpleasant work environment affecting nurses, patients, and the health care organization, and, as such, health care centers should educate their nursing staff to identify lateral violence and adopt measures to eliminate it, according to a study published in the May issue of the AORN Journal.

Tina J. Dimarino, R.N., C.N.O.R., from Custom Surgical Consultants in Street, Md., defined lateral violence and reported its harmful effects. Recommended strategies for identification and management of lateral violence are offered, based on experience in an ambulatory surgical unit.

The author defines lateral violence as disruptive, disparaging, or uncivil behavior inflicted by one peer on another, and which creates an unpleasant work environment. This can have harmful effects on the health care organization by affecting individual nurses, team members, and patients. Training nurses to identify the most common forms of lateral violence, and educating them about strategies for handling inappropriate behavior, can be the first step toward eliminating this behavior. Leaders' commitment to zero tolerance for lateral violence with clear and concise behavioral expectations and consequences of exhibiting unprofessional behavior can help create positive work environments. Techniques, such as code of conduct, open communication, and quick resolution of issues, have successfully been used to combat lateral violence in one ambulatory surgery center, with the result that staff members are satisfied, patients report that the atmosphere is pleasant, and there is zero staff turnover.

"As nursing professionals strive to eradicate unprofessional behaviors from the work environment, ignoring lateral violence is no longer acceptable," the author writes.

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