Hospital Assaults Hit All-Time High in 2020, IAHSS Survey Finds

From 2019 to 2020, the assault rate at U.S. hospitals increased more than 23% from 10.9 incidents per 100 beds to 14.2.

Hospital Assaults Hit All-Time High in 2020, IAHSS Survey Finds

Last year, assaults at U.S. hospitals reached an all-time high, according to the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) 2021 Healthcare Crime Survey results.

The results of the survey, which was commissioned under the IAHSS Foundation’s Research and Grants Program, were released Nov. 10 at the IAHSS 53rd Annual Conference & Exhibition (AC&E). The survey was distributed to the highest-ranking hospital security professional or their designee at each hospital. IAHSS received 600 responses but only 269 were deemed valid. The responses represented about 4.4% of the 6,000 hospitals in the U.S. and respondents averaged 301 beds per facility.

The survey collected information on 10 different types of crimes: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and vandalism. To stay consistent with the FBI’s Uniform CrimeReport practice, murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault were combined into one group called “Violent Crime.”

From 2019 to 2020, the violent crime rate jumped from 1.4 incidents per 100 beds to 1.7. The assault rate (non-aggravated) hit a record high since IAHSS first started tracking healthcare crimes in 2012, increasing more than 23% from 10.9 to 14.2.

Similarly, there was a near 24% increase in disorderly conduct, jumping from 28.0 incidents per 100 beds to 36.7. There was also an increase in vandalism from 2.0 to 2.4.

View survey results slideshow

Hospitals saw a slight decline in burglary and motor vehicle theft, dropping from 0.6 to 0.5 and 0.6 to 0.4, respectively. There was a more significant decline in thefts, with 30% fewer incidents from 2019 (7.0) to 2020 (4.9).

As it relates to the pandemic, on average, respondents reported no significant changes to budgets and staffing. Many hospitals also said they planned to maintain visitor management and access restrictions. Out of 227 respondents who answered pandemic-related questions, 165 currently have visitor management programs in place.

Also in 2020, the FBI saw a record number of hate crimes with a 6% increase from 2019. Although the top two types of hate crimes were intimidation and destruction/damage/vandalism of property, there were a total of 2,197 simple assaults and 1,407 aggravated assaults motivated by hate bias. Of all the hate crimes reported in 2020, 102 occurred at hospitals.

To combat some of these disturbing healthcare violence trends, IAHSS and American Hospital Association (AHA) released a resource last month titled, “Creating Safer Workplaces: A guide to mitigating violence in health care settings.” The guide offers recommended action steps, case studies, leading practices, and solutions for creating a safer workplace. Read it here.

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About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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One response to “Hospital Assaults Hit All-Time High in 2020, IAHSS Survey Finds”

  1. As the Founder/President of Nurses Against Violence Unite, Inc., an organization geared to bring awareness, education, and empowerment to nurses, nursing staff and healthcare workers, I want to thank you for the surveying statistics and even though nursing staff knows it is worse than it is being reported, it is crucial to get staff to report incidents. The data you obtained would be catastrophic as this is why nursing staff is leaving. Administration doesn’t believe how bad it is and blame the nurse for the incidents. Our violence prevention program aims to help fill the gaps of education in certification programs and help organizations to build morale and a safer work environment. This is vital. Again, thank you!

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