Common Reasons for Workplace Violence

Staff shortages, increased patient morbidities, exposure to violent individuals, and the absence of strong workplace violence prevention programs and protective regulations are all barriers to eliminating violence against healthcare workers.

The risk factors for violence vary from hospital to hospital and in home care settings, depending on location, size, and type of care. Violence may occur anywhere in a hospital, but is most frequent in psychiatric units, emergency departments, waiting areas, and in geriatric/long-term care units.

A great many nurses work outside the hospital in high-risk public sector healthcare settings such as prison and jail medical units, drug and alcohol residential treatment facilities, or as visiting nurses. The degree to which each of these workplaces emphasizes worker safety varies widely.

On the following pages we examine common risk factors for client-on-worker violence organized across the following four areas: clinical, environmental, organizational, and social/economic.

Page last reviewed: February 7, 2020