Mistreatment of health care providers (HCPs) is associated with burnout and lower-quality patient care, but mistreatment by patients and family members is underreported. We hypothesized that an organizational strategy that includes training, safety incident reporting, and a response protocol would increase HCP knowledge, self-efficacy, and reporting of mistreatment.


In this single-center, serial, cross-sectional study, we sent an anonymous survey to HCPs before and after the intervention at a 213-bed tertiary care university children’s hospital between 2018 and 2019. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the effect of training on the outcomes of interest and whether this association was moderated by staff role.


We received 309 baseline surveys from 72 faculty, 191 nurses, and 46 residents, representing 39.1%, 27.1%, and 59.7%, respectively, of eligible HCPs. Verbal threats from patients or family members were reported by 214 (69.5%) HCPs. Offensive behavior was most commonly based on provider age (85, 28.5%), gender (85, 28.5%), ethnicity or race (55, 18.5%), and appearance (43, 14.6%) but varied by role. HCPs who received training had a higher odds of reporting knowledge, self-efficacy, and experiencing offensive behavior. Incident reporting of mistreatment increased threefold after the intervention.


We report an effective organizational approach to address mistreatment of HCPs by patients and family members. Our approach capitalizes on existing patient safety culture and systems that can be adopted by other institutions to address all forms of mistreatment, including those committed by other HCPs.

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