Aggression, Violence Impacted All Hospital Staff In 2023

New data from Canopy reveals that 60% of reported threats in hospitals happened outside the emergency department last year. (Is the full moon really a factor?)

The threat of violence is pervasive across hospital grounds and impacted more than 10% of all hospital staff last year in every role, according to new data from Canopy. The 2023 data — collected from more than 40 hospitals and health systems across 800 U.S. facilities — shows that workplace aggression and violence impacted everyone from nurses to physicians, to cafeteria and gift shop workers, and took place in every area of the hospital campus.

hospital violence
(Image: Adobe Stock / Generative AI by Julia)


But is patient behavior in hospitals worse during a full moon?

If you ask anyone who works in a hospital — doctor, nurse, or medical technician — they’re likely to say “yes!” There is persistent speculation among some health staff that lunar phases impact patient and visitor behavior. In fact, belief in the phenomenon is strong enough that some hospitals increase staffing and preparation for full moon nights, and some staff prefer not to work during full moons.

Academic research from Nursing Research and Northwestern University doesn’t support this theory about the lunar cycle. However, Canopy’s new research did reveal a 9% increase in incidents during full moons.

Workplace Aggression: When And Where

Moon phases aside, last year 200,000 hospital employees equipped with duress buttons created by Canopy triggered 22,000 alerts requesting immediate help with an emerging threat or active violence. While the largest share of these alerts originated in emergency departments (40.5%), nearly two-thirds happened in other areas of the hospital, underscoring the importance of protecting employees from in-patient floors to surgical units to intensive care units (ICUs).

“Frontline healthcare workers want to save lives and care for patients — workplace aggression isn’t part of the job they sign up for. This data reflects the fact that health systems are taking action to protect their staff by deploying technology to get ahead of workplace aggression and de-escalate threats as they emerge,” said Shan Sinha, co-founder and CEO of Canopy. “Our data underscores the need to be proactive and give every staff member the tools to ensure their safety and be confident we have their back.”

Canopy found workers needed to use their duress buttons in incidents throughout every part of the hospital:

  • 40.5% originated in emergency departments
  • 40.5% originated in in-patient and surgery-related areas (admitting, pre-op, post-op, or anesthesia)
  • 19% originated everywhere else (ICUs, critical care units, behavioral health, and non-patient areas)

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In addition to location, Canopy’s data revealed trends associated with days of the week, COVID surges, and holidays. Surprisingly, alerts were less frequent during weekends and holidays, despite being some of the busiest, and often understaffed, times for hospital emergency departments.

  • 20% more incidents occurred on weekdays versus weekend days
  • There were 12% fewer incidents during holidays than non-holiday periods
  • COVID surges (defined by a 50% or greater increase in hospital admissions) saw an 8% increase in incidents

Canopy’s data provides insight beyond the frequently cited Bureau of Labor Statistics’ landmark “Workplace Violence in Healthcare” report, which showed healthcare workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than any other industry.

Read more facility management-related news about healthcare facilities.


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