Bullying and Workplace Violence

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The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines workplace violence as any physical assault, threatening behavior or verbal abuse occurring in the workplace (NIOSH, 1996). ANA recognizes that workplace violence is a problem in the health care industry and works hard to provide resources to protect nurses.

Official Position on Workplace Violence

The American Nurses Association (ANA) upholds that all nursing personnel have the right to work in healthy work environments free of abusive behavior such as bullying, hostility, lateral abuse and violence, sexual harassment, intimidation, abuse of authority and position and reprisal for speaking out against abuses.

Workplace Violence Statistics

  • In 2009, more than 50% of emergency center nurses experienced violence by patients on the job. There were 2,050 assaults and violent acts reported by RNs requiring an average of four days away from work. Of these acts, 1,830 were inflicted with injuries by patients or residents (Emergency Nurses Association).
  • From 2003 to 2009, eight registered nurses were fatally injured at work (BLS, 2011).
  • A study of student nurses reported that 53% had been put down by a staff nurse (Longo, 2007); 52% reported having been threatened or experienced verbal violence at work (ANA, 2011).
Lateral Violence and Bullying in Nursing

Lateral violence refers to acts between colleagues and bullying is often described as acts perpetrated by one in a higher level of authority. This behavior may involve covert or overt acts of verbal and non-verbal aggression. These types of behavior have been reported to result in enough psychological distress to nurses to cause them to leave the profession (Dellasega, 2009).

Advocacy

Although, there is no federal standard that requires workplace violence protections, effective January 1, 2009 The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization created a new standard in the “Leadership” chapter (LD.03.01.01) that addresses disruptive and inappropriate behaviors. Additionally, there are several states that have enacted legislation or regulations aimed at preventing workplace violence.

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