Hospital Crime Survey: Violent Crime Rate Ticked Upward in 2016

The IAHSS hospital security survey found more significant increases in assaults, disorderly conduct and theft.

The overall violent crime rate at hospitals in the United States increased slightly in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) Foundation’s latest crime survey.

The results, announced at the IAHSS annual conference held recently in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, showed that the rate of violent crime per 100 beds was 1.0 last year. Although that is up from 2015, in which the rate was .9, it still is way down from the 2014 rate of 2.8 per 100 beds.

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Other types of crimes did see a more significant increase compared to 2015. The assault rate increased from 8.1 per 100 beds in 2015 to 9.3 last year. Disorderly conduct went up by 12.7; theft by 2.3; vandalism by .9; burglary by .2; and motor vehicle theft by .1.

Type 2 workplace violence (patient-on-staff or visitor-on-staff violence) accounted for 85% of all aggravated assaults and 91% of all assaults. However, according to Bonnie Michaelman of Massachusetts General Hospital, employee-on-employee (type 3) violence has decreased, and she attributed that progress to the work of hospital security departments.

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“Background screening has gotten that much better, our tolerance for violence by employees has gotten much lower and our programs on workplace violence have gotten far more sophisticated,” Michaelman said. “That has really made a difference in the proportion of employee or former employee violence toward people in healthcare. We should be proud of that.”

Although Michaelman acknowledged that hospitals are still working on reducing violence perpetrated by visitors and patients, she said that target hardening has resulted in the low rate of type 1 workplace violence (violent acts by criminals), type 3 and type 4 workplace violence (violence committed in the workplace by someone who doesn’t work there but has a personal relationship with an employee – an abusive spouse or partner).

Michaelman also noted the probability that many crimes go unreported. Additionally, crimes like drug diversion and cyber attacks were not included in the data.

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