Workplace violence in health care - it's not "part of the job".

Document Type


Publication Date



Obstetrics & Gynecology

Journal Title

Obstetrical & gynecological survey

MeSH Headings

Female, Health Facilities, Health Personnel, Humans, Male, Occupational Health, Occupational Injuries, Prevalence, Safety Management, United States, Workplace, Workplace Violence


IMPORTANCE: While health care workers comprise just 13% of the US workforce, they experience 60% of all workplace assaults. This violence is the second leading cause of fatal occupational injury. Women comprise 45% of the US labor force but 80% of health care workers, the highest proportion of females in any industry.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose was to describe the prevalence, forms, and consequences of health care workplace violence (WPV). The role and components of prevention programs for avoiding or mitigating violence are discussed, including opportunities for participation by obstetrician-gynecologists.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A search of PubMed from 1990 to February 1, 2016, identified relevant manuscripts. Additional studies were found by reviewing the manuscripts' references. Government Web sites were visited for relevant data, publications, and resources.

RESULTS: Health care WPV continues to rise despite an overall decrease in US WPV. While workers are most likely to be assaulted by clients or patients, they are most frequently bullied and threatened by coworkers. All incidents are markedly underreported in the absence of physical injury or lost work time. Sequelae include physical and psychological trauma, adverse patient outcomes, and perceived lower quality of care.

CONCLUSIONS: The human, societal, and economic costs of health care WPV are enormous and unacceptable. Comprehensive prevention, planning, and intervention offer the best means of mitigating risks. As women's health physicians and health care workers, obstetrician-gynecologists should be encouraged to participate in such efforts.



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