Be Attuned to Patient Behaviors

Man showing non-verbal cues of violence: clenched fists and agitation

Most violent behavior is preceded by warning signs. The following cues are indicators of possible violence:

Verbal Cues

  • Speaking loudly or yelling
  • Swearing
  • Threatening tone of voice

Non-verbal or Behavioral Cues

  • Physical appearance (clothing and hygiene neglected)
  • Arms held tight across chest
  • Clenched fists
  • Heavy breathing
  • Pacing or agitation
  • A terrified look signifying fear and high anxiety
  • A fixed stare
  • Aggressive or threatening posture
  • Thrown objects
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Indications of drunkenness or substance abuse

More cues exhibited indicates a greater risk of violence.

Page last reviewed: May 16, 2024