Survey: Hospital Violent Crime Rate Up, Property Crime Rate Down in 2018

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Last year, U.S. hospitals experienced both an increase in violent crime and a decrease in property crime, according to the latest International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) Foundation Healthcare Crime Survey results, which were released May 21 at the IAHSS 51st Annual Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.

First, the bad news. The violent crime rate increased from 1.0 incidents per 100 beds in 2016 (when the last survey was completed) to 1.4 last year. Still, that rate was half the rate of violent crime reported in 2014.

It should be noted, however, that the assault rate increased from 9.3 incidents in 2016 to 11.7 in 2018, which is the highest rate that IAHSS has recorded since it began collecting crime data in 2012. The disorderly conduct rate increased from 34.1 to 45.2 last year, which was also a record high.

On the bright side, the overall property crime rate decreased in 2018, compared to 2016. The theft rate dropped from 8.0 incidents per 100 beds three years ago to 7.6 last year. The vandalism rate decreased from 3.0 to 2.5, while the burglary rate decreased from 0.6 to 0.4 incidents per 100 beds. Only the motor vehicle theft rate saw an increase, from 0.4 in 2016 to 0.6 in 2018.

View all of the results in this slideshow

Of all the workplace violence incidents reported, the vast majority (85%) were categorized as Type 2: “Violence directed at employees by customers, clients, patients, students, inmates or any others for who an organization provides services.”

Examples of Type 2 workplace violence include patient-on-staff and visitor-on-staff incidents.

The rate of Type 2 assaults per 100 employees was 1.2, and 46% of those incidents took place in emergency departments. The rate of Type 2 aggravated assaults was 0.2 incidents per 100 employees, and 34% of those incidents happened in hospital emergency departments.

The rate of Type 2 aggravated assaults in emergency departments was 29.8 per 100 emergency department beds, while the rate of Type 2 assaults was 69.9 incidents per 100 beds.

“The majority of the incidents are occurring in the ED, so a lot of our resources need to be focused on that area,” said Karim Vellani, IAHSS Foundation research committee chair who presented the new data to the conference attendees.

With cybersecurity issues constantly in the news, IAHSS added the topic of ransomware to this year’s survey. More than one in 10 respondents (11%) answered “yes” to the question, “Was your hospital the subject of a ransomware attack in 2018?”

Vellani said he was surprised by the high number of respondents whose organizations had experienced a ransomware attack.

“But in talking to IT professionals and other security professionals, we actually believe that number is underreported because not everyone wants to share that information,” he said.

As he concluded his presentation, Vellani urged members of the audience to participate in future IAHSS surveys. He also made the following suggestions that hospitals should implement so the quality of future crime data improves:

  • Align with IAHSS Guideline 01.05.01 security incident categories
  • Align with FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) definitions
  • Incorporate workplace violence typology
  • Location of incident (e.g. ED, BHU, ICU, etc.)

The crime survey results can be found at

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