Trends, victims, and injuries in injurious patient assaults on adult, geriatric, and child/adolescent psychiatric units in US hospitals, 2007-2013.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1002/nur.21647


While rates of other nurse-sensitive adverse outcomes have declined in recent years, little is known about trends in rates of assault by psychiatric inpatients. The primary purpose of this study was to examine recent trends in injurious assault rates against patients and staff on adult, geriatric, and child/adolescent psychiatric units, using data from a nationwide sample of hospitals. A secondary aim was to assess the frequency with which patients and various types of hospital staff were reported as the most severely injured victim. National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators® data from 2007 to 2013 were extracted. The sample comprised 345 hospitals (324 general, 5 pediatric, 16 psychiatric), 438 adult, 75 geriatric, and 105 child/adolescent units, each with assault rate data from at least three of the seven study years. All but four states in the United States were represented. Spearman's rank coefficients were used to test for time trends. In 16.3 million patient days, nearly three-quarters of the 14,877 injurious assaults by patients involved injury only to hospital staff, whereas one-fifth resulted in injury only to patients. A registered nurse was named most frequently as the most severely injured victim (32.1% of assaults), and nursing staff of all types accounted for 64.9% of the most severely injured. Assault rates did not change significantly over time. Unlike several other nursing-sensitive adverse outcomes that have been the focus of policymakers, assault rates have not declined in recent years and remain a problem in need of more focused attention.

Journal Title

Research in nursing & health





First Page


Last Page


MeSH Keywords

Adolescent; Adult; Aged; Child; Crime Victims; Female; Humans; Male; Mental Disorders; Middle Aged; Patient Safety; Psychiatric Department, Hospital; Risk Factors; Safety; United States; Violence; Wounds and Injuries


patient safety; patient violence; psychiatric units; workplace safety

Library Record