Violence in Nursing and Healthcare

The problem of vertical and horizontal workplace violence in nursing has been discussed for decades. It is stated that healthcare specialists are more likely to be subjected to workplace violence than the workers in other sectors. Therefore, healthcare organizations should pay attention to this issue and develop strategies for preventing vertical and horizontal violence.

Workplace violence is regarded to be “any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her development” (Mitchell, Ahmed, & Szabo, 2014, p. 147). It may also include spreading rumors, psychological traumas, and bullying. Unprofessional behavior in nursing is reported to be common, undermining the work of a nurse. Both novice and experienced nurses may become the victims of aggression coming from their colleagues. Thus, it is important for a nursing administrator to identify and implement effective strategies to create a zero tolerance for horizontal and vertical violence.

The experts advise to establish violence- prevention programs on the permanent basis, to check backgrounds of the applicants and evaluate their competence and behavior. It is recommended to implement procedures for disciplining workers and firing them for any violent actions, as well as to educate employees to report the suspicious conduct and violence. As a nursing administrator, I would use these tips to create a healthy environment in the workplace.

The researchers state that it is also imperative to use educational strategies, such as showing educational video clips and implementing mentoring programs (Mitchell et al., 2014, p. 147). I would use these two strategies to promote among the newly hired nurses the knowledge about workplace violence and its prevention. Mentoring programs might also help in developing positive relationships between medical workers and create the atmosphere of mutual understanding.

It is generally agreed that underreporting of vertical and horizontal violence is a serious barrier to successful implementation of programs for prevention of workplace violence. Some researchers state that the reasons for underreporting may be different, including “the feeling that violence is ‘just part of the job;’ that nothing will be done about the problem reported; and that the person in the position of power is the perpetrator” (Blando, Ridenour, Hartley, & Casteel, 2015, para. 6). Thus, many nurses prefer not to report the cases of workplace violence, making it difficult to implement strategies for violence prevention. However, some state laws practice formal reports for violence prevention nowadays.

Workplace violence is believed to be one of the main reasons for poor performance of nursing staff, resulting in bad quality in patient care and safety. It is stated that “workplace violence can become part of the nursing unit culture” (Mitchell et al., 2014, p. 147). There are two linkages between horizontal and vertical violence and impacts on the quality of healthcare and patient safety. Primarily, workplace violence causes errors in the work of a nurse, which has a negative impact on the patients. Secondly, it leads to the situations when the nurses are afraid to ask their colleagues for assistance, which may cause an increase in nursing errors. Thus, nursing administrators play a significant role in changing the unhealthy environment in the medical organization.

Workplace violence has many negative behavioral, psychological and physical impacts on people. Underreporting of violence may lead to bullying, lack of guidance and being labeled as a bad worker. Therefore, healthcare organizations should pay attention to this issue and implement relevant strategies.


Blando, J., Ridenour, M., Hartley, D., & Casteel, C. (2015). Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 20(1). Web.

Mitchell, A., Ahmed, A., & Szabo, C. (2014). Workplace violence among nurses, why are we still discussing this? Literature review. Journal of Nursing Education and Practice, 4(4), 147.

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