Did the events following the COVID-19 outbreak influence the incidents of violence against hospital staff?

Fuad Basis, Kobi Moskovitz, Shay Tzafrir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 outbreak, (March 1 - June 15, 2020) citizens expressed sympathy and gratitude towards medical staff through the media, while the entire hospital staff faced the same danger of infection as other citizens. This might have made hospital staff develop sympathy, understanding for the patients` and family's needs, and a better communication.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate if there is a relation between the mutual change in attitude between citizens and hospital staff during the first COVID-19 outbreak, and the incidence of violence cases.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a cross sectional study conducted at Rambam Medical Center (RMC) in Israel. The data about the number of violence cases were collected from the security department, and the data about hospital wards activity were collected from the hospital Business Intelligence (BI) software. The number of violence cases in relation to the number of Emergency Department (ED) visits, admissions to hospital wards, and length of stay (LOS) were compared during the COVID-19 outbreak to the corresponding period in 2019 using the T- test. The difference in the incidence of violence between general population and people with a psychiatric or social disorder (like drug abuse and criminal background) in both periods were also compared using the Fisher exact test.

RESULTS: During the first COVID-19 outbreak, there were 6 violence cases against medical staff out of 24,740 visits to the ED, vs. 21 cases out of 30,759 visits during the same periods in 2019 (P < 0.05). There were 19 violence cases in the whole hospital with 14,482 admissions in 2020 vs. 51 violence cases of 17,599 admissions in 2019 (P < 0.05). Violence against security guards in the entire hospital dropped from 20 to 11 cases, and in the set of the ED, from 13 to 4 cases in both periods respectively. A 20 % decrease in the number of visits to the ED, might have influenced the average LOS during the study period, 2020 compared to 2019 (4.4 + 0.45 vs. 5.4 + 0.36 h. (P < 0.001). The ratio of violence among general population vs. people with a psychiatric or social background revealed a non-significant change in both periods (P = 0.75 and P = 0.69) respectively.

DISCUSSION: The COVID-19 outbreak supplied some evidence that a change in environmental conditions, trust, waiting time, personal attitude and communication might have reduced violence against hospital staff.

CONCLUSIONS: Except for violence coming from patients with psychiatric or social disorders, most other violence cases might be reduced if the environment conditions and attitudes of both citizens and staff are improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Pages (from-to)36
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Emergency Service, Hospital/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Length of Stay/statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders/epidemiology
  • Patient Admission/statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • Workplace Violence/statistics & numerical data


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