Lateral Violence in Nursing

Did you know that……

  •     “nurse bullying” has been researched for the last 25 years
  •     53% of nurses report the prevalence of bullying  as “common” or “very common”
  •    48% of RNs admit to being victims of bullies in the last 6 months. 35% of those report that it occurred in the last week. 28% of those report it occurs daily.
  •    72% of new RNs report being bullied in the last month.
  •  nurse bullying includes many observable actions, such as “offensive, abusive, intimidating, or insulting behavior, abuse of power, or unfair sanctions”..that upset or humiliate, make them feel vulnerable, threatened, create stress and undermine their confidence.
  • the result of the bullying is always injury. Either physical or emotional distress, illness, social misery, and even being fired.
  • Bullying behaviors include scapegoating, sabotaging (by withholding information about patients to compromise care), and “excessive” criticism.
  • Victims can experience being refused support from peers, having their competence questioned in front of peers, having demeaning comments made about them, as well as getting “excessive or unreasonable” assignments.
  • those bullying nurses are nurses, as well. 24% are experienced nurses. 17% are charge nurses.  15% were nurse co-workers. 14% are nurse managers.  Another study identified nurse bullies as being managers or directors (50%).
  • victims frequently reported that “generating new ideas” or challenging the status quo drew negative attention from bullies for being “a threat to someone at a higher level.’

The consequences of bullying include…..

  • a “culture of silence” that “impedes a solutions to problems.”
  • few reported incidence of bullying can be “difficult” because of “the position of the perpetrator in the organization.”
  • higher costs for the institution because of absenteeism, higher turnover, employee health care, and compromised patient safety.
  • increasing the chances of nurses leaving their positions. Increased RN turnover can cost an organization $92,000 for a med-surg nurse. Specialty nurses can cost as much as $145,000 per nurse lost.
  • nurse bully victims were three times more likely to leave the profession than those not victims of bullying.
  • victims suffer anxiety, depression, use of tobacco and alcohol, weight loss, low self-esteem, fatigue, hypertension, and angina.
  • 29% of nurse bullying victims consider suicide. 16% have had a suicide plan in place for carrying it out.
  • a survey of nurses had 7% of them reporting being involved in a medicine error related to intimidation from another nurse. Bullying makes nurses less likely to ask for help or assistance with moving patients, clarifying steps for a procedure, and equipment they are not familiar with.
  • increased adverse events, including higher patient mortality.
  • 74% of victims are disappointed with the results of actions taken with the bully. Another study showed that 50% of nurse bully victims did not report the behavior for fear of retribution. Studies show that the fear is “not unfounded” as retaliation can occur in the form of being terminated.

Did you also know that in a LexisNexus search of articles on bullying…

  • total 1,351 articles on “school bullying”
  • total 318 articles on “workplace bullying”
  • total 16 articles on “nurse bullying”


Nurse Outlook XXX 2015 – Accepted Nov. 9th, 2015


by Marie A. Castronovo, MS, RN, FNP-BC  ,  Amy Pullizzi MS, RN, FNP-BC,

ShaKira Evans MS, RN, FNP-BC – Columbia University School Of Nursing