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Horizontal Violence or Bullying


I feel verbally beat up, why do some of my colleagues act so weird?

What you may be experiencing is horizontal violence or bullying.  These terms are used to describe unwelcome behaviors displayed by one colleague toward another. Sometimes the behavior is easily recognized, such as when one nurse criticizes another in front of a patient. Other times, it may be less obvious, such as when a nurse is excluded from unit activities.  The most important step in fighting horizontal violence or bullying is recognizing these behaviors and not accepting them as part of the daily work environment.


Examples of behaviors to note
·      Being accused of errors made by someone else
·      Nonverbal intimidation, including being stared at or glared at
·      Being belittled
·      Having thoughts or feelings ignored
·      Being excluded from activities or conversations
·      Being gossiped about or being the topic of rumors
·      Being yelled at or screamed at in front of others
·      Being humiliated in front of others
·      Being assigned undesirable work
·      Being sabotaged
·      Having resources or information withheld, thereby impeding job performance
·      Being physically threatened

How do I deal with bullying?

·      Recognize the behaviors
·      Prepare to confront the individual and make it known the behavior will not be tolerated and will be dealt with each time it occurs
·      If confronting the individual does not work, then report the behaviors to the manager
·      Be very aware of the policies in your facility to address workplace abuse

What are consequences of horizontal violence/bullying in nursing?

·      Can negatively affect the delivery of health care services
·      Can have financial and organizational effects on the employer
·      May affect the efficiency, accuracy, safety and outcomes of care
·      May hinder recruitment and retention of nurses

With support from TNA, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) established a rule requiring hospitals to: adopt, implement and enforce a written policy for identifying and addressing instances of alleged verbal or physical abuse or harassment of hospital employees or contracted personnel by other hospital employees or contracted personnel or by a health care provider who has clinical privileges at the hospital. (Chapter 133, Section 133.45).

Know your hospital's policy and procedure for abusive behavior.

You can obtain additional information at the sites indicated below:

The Workplace Bullying Institute: includes information regarding bullying, current research, and full-text articles 

Bully Busters: a good source of information on what is happening at a local level concerning workplace bullying, this site represents a grassroots movement to introduce anti-bullying bills into state legislatures. 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA is located within the US Department of Labor and serves to assure the safety and health of employees by enforcing standards.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH): provides information on research, education, and training to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.


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