Violence against healthcare workers

As each day passes,  healthcare workers globally face an increased risk of violence. The most common types of violence are physical and verbal. Other types of violence are psychological harm, bullying, and different forms of sexual and racial harassment.  Mostly, patients and their visitors propagate violence against healthcare workers. At some point in their careers, 8% to 38% of health workers become victims of violence at their workplace (Georgia & Georgia, 2014). As a local physician working in the Houston area, I have also been a victim of violence. I have on many different occasions been assaulted by my patients, I developed post-traumatic stress disorders as a result. One of my worst experiences happened in a certain large hospital here in  Houston. I was restrained by a patient and shoved into a wall. Although many of the healthcare workers do not report violent cases against them, I chose to file an official reports complain. To my shock, I was told that no policy exists for such a case. I was assaulted within the hospital premises, despite my being an independent contractor of the hospital, the hospital PR wouldn’t listen to any charge of criminal assault against their patient. No action was taken, I felt I have an obligation to create more awareness of violence against healthcare workers. 

Healthcare works work under tough environments with numerous challenges ranging from unmanageable workloads, insufficient technology and lack of support systems. Despite these many challenges they still devote their lives to helping other people and promoting the health of patients. It is sad to note that more often, healthcare workers get attacked by their patient’s visitors and patients whom they devote their lives to help. Violence against health workers is an epidemic that is on the rise. Recent studies indicate that this form of violence has become so rampant that most people actually realize it. Policymakers need to fast act on this increasing but under-reported problem. Recent statistics indicate that although 75% of almost 25,000 annual assault cases take place in the healthcare settings, only  30% of nurses and 26% of doctors working under the emergency department have reported these assault cases. Almost  80%  of physicians in emergency care departments believe that violence and assault events have taken a toll on patients. More than  50%  of patients are harmed physically and 47% of healthcare workers have been physically assaulted while at their place of work (Kitaneh, Mohamad & Hamdan, 2012). Those who aren’t so conversant with the everyday events happening in healthcare settings might be in shock to note that the alterations of violence are so rampant that the majority of healthcare workers regard them as simply part of the job. According to the report by the World Health Organization, workplace violence covers all incidents whereby workers are abused, threatened, or assaulted in situations that can be associated with their work. These situations can range from violence instances that happen as they commute to and from work; safety, well-being and health challenges.

The massive problem of violence against healthcare workers is increasingly crippling the hard-working staff members. To work efficiently and effectively, employees need to be in an environment that is calm and gives them peace of mind. However, this is not the case and no one seems to care. In 2019, the issue of physician burnout reached a breaking point, this is after  79% of primary care physicians made reports that they suffer from stress due to their environments of work.  The risk of healthcare workers getting depression as a result of a stressful working environment is especially high.  Doctors and nurses work at irregular hours and also night shift, people working under these circumstances have a 3% more likelihood of depression, this has serious effects on the community at large (Oostrom &Mierlo, 2008).  Healthcare environments are designed to be places of healing, they have, however, turned out to be places of depression,  verbal abuse and many forms of assaults. Violence against hospital employees and physicians who are considered contractors is totally unacceptable.  It has huge negative implications on the psychological and physical health of healthcare workers, it also affects their job motivation and satisfaction. Consequently, this form of violence is a huge compromise to the quality of care and it puts the general provision of healthcare at great risk. It also results in significant financial loss in the health sector. Policies and interventions to stop vioelnce on healthcare workers should be put in place and they should emphasize strategies that can be used to better manage violent patients and high-risk visitors in non-emergency settings. Policies for  emergency settings should emphasize on making sure there is physical security for all the  health-care facilities


Georgia., & Georgia. (2014). The final report of the Violence Against Healthcare Workers Joint Study Committee.

Kitaneh, Mohamad, & Hamdan, Motasem. (2012). Workplace violence against physicians             and nurses in Palestinian public hospitals: a cross-sectional study. (BioMed          Central Ltd.) BioMed Central Ltd.

Oostrom, J.K. (Janneke), & Mierlo, H. (Heleen) van. (2008). An evaluation of an aggression management training program to cope with workplace violence in the healthcare sector. (Research in Nursing & Health vol. 31 no. 4, pp. 320-328.)