AHEC Announces Results of Violence at Work Survey

AHEC Announces Results of Violence at Work Survey

Five years ago AHEC identified Violence in the Workplace as one of the most concerning trends in healthcare. The Joint Commission sent out an Alert in that summer and announced that violence was among the top 10 types of sentinel events reported.  AHEC did a random survey of our previous attendees from live events and reported the results. In the wake of the most recent events, we found that the number of violent situations resulting in harm to either patients or healthcare workers was too numerous to list in our current blog article. We asked ourselves “Has anything changed?”  And we resurveyed our previous attendees and added a survey for emergency physicians and another for our temporary staffers.  The number of respondents to our random sample was approximately the same numbers and response rates.


The demographics did not change significantly in the current survey. Female participation dropped from 80% to 75%. Age range groups stayed essentially the same with the largest group of respondents in each survey in the 36 to 56 group. One significant difference from this survey was that 46% did not disclose their age and in the last survey only 0.5% did not disclose the age range.  Participants responded from 26 states in the AHEC attendee group and from 4 states in the ED physician group.

Violence Increasing

Let it be said that our nation is exhibiting more open violence and less tolerance for differences of opinion in more recent times. Responses on social media and in the regular media pathways report things that are not true and it is people beware of believing anything on the internet.

The most obvious change in the last 5 years was the overall change in the percentage of people who now feel safe at their workplace. This survey did not identify whether patient care was delivered in an outpatient or inpatient setting.  The impression of feeling safe dropped from 92% to 77%, lower for temporary  staff and 75% for Emergency Physicians.

Across the board in this category, the responses show increasing numbers of survey respondents  who have indicated they have been victims of some type of violence in the workplace. Bullying, sexual harassment, physical violence or verbal violence show we are not as considerate of our co-workers are we should be.

The best method to meet violence response in a “head-on” way is to train employees and staff to respond to defuse contentious situations in the best possible manner. Training has improved since our last survey and it appears that the temporary staff have had the most training available.  More training is desirable for all staff members.

Additional questions about the effectiveness of the training can be evaluated by the type of training that is presented in the healthcare setting.  Face to face seminars are the most effective using a trained faculty that has expertise in this area.


The comparison between the AHEC survey in 2012 and the 2017 survey shows that violence in many aspects of healthcare support the theory that healthcare safety is of utmost concern. Training has improved but is not universal to all healthcare staff and could be more effective.


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