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Horizontal Violence in Hospitals

Horizontal violence, also called lateral violence, is hostile or aggressive behavior by an individual or members of a group towards other group members. It is usually nonphysical, but can cause psychological or emotional damage to employees.

Horizontal violence in nursing is a widespread behavior in health care facilities today, for reasons including nursing and medical culture and approaches by doctors and administration. It can affect new hires as well as nurses who have worked in a facility for a long time. The behavior can take the form of sabotage, criticism, or other harassment. Horizontal violence often results in nurse bullying or other types of hospital bullying.

The culture of intimidating and disruptive behaviors in hospitals has become so prevalent that The Joint Commission developed new standards that went into effect in January 2009. These standards require accredited health care organizations to put systems in place to address these issues.

Find out if your facility complies with these standards [PDF].

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