Physical assault, physical threat, and verbal abuse perpetrated against hospital workers by patients or visitors in six U.S. hospitals

Am J Ind Med. 2015 Nov;58(11):1194-204. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22489. Epub 2015 Jun 15.


Background: An elevated risk of patient/visitor perpetrated violence (type II) against hospital nurses and physicians have been reported, while little is known about type II violence among other hospital workers, and circumstances surrounding these events.

Methods: Hospital workers (n = 11,000) in different geographic areas were invited to participate in an anonymous survey.

Results: Twelve-month prevalence of type II violence was 39%; 2,098 of 5,385 workers experienced 1,180 physical assaults, 2,260 physical threats, and 5,576 incidents of verbal abuse. Direct care providers were at significant risk, as well as some workers that do not provide direct care. Perpetrator circumstances attributed to violent events included altered mental status, behavioral issues, pain/medication withdrawal, dissatisfaction with care. Fear for safety was common among worker victims (38%). Only 19% of events were reported into official reporting systems.

Conclusions: This pervasive occupational safety issue is of great concern and likely extends to patients for whom these workers care for.

Keywords: hospital workers; type II violence; workplace violence.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Hospitals / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology
  • Personnel, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physical Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Safety
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas / epidemiology
  • Workplace Violence / classification
  • Workplace Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult