Physician homicide: Reports in the National Violent Death Reporting System (2003–2018)

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Objective: To explore the occurrence, demographics, and circumstances of homicides of physicians. Method: Authors interrogated the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's surveillance system tracking violent deaths between 2003 and 2018 which integrates data from law enforcement and coroner/medical examiner reports. Authors identified cases of homicide decedents whose profession was physician, surgeon, or psychiatrist. Data collected included decedents' demographics as well as circumstances of death. Results: Data were provided by 7–41 states as participating states increased over time. Fifty-six homicides were reported, most were male (73.2%) and white (76.8%). Most (67.9%) identified assailants reportedly knew decedents: 23.2% were perpetrated by partners/ex-partners; 10.7% by patients/patients' family members. Deaths were mainly due to gunshot wounds (44.6%), stabbing (16.1%), and blunt force trauma (16.1%). More (58.9%) homicides occurred at victims' homes than work (16.1%). Conclusions: Physician homicides are relatively rare and occur at lower rates than in the general population. Physicians were more frequently killed by partners or ex-partners than by patients. Most homicides occurred away from the workplace. Broader efforts are needed to promote interventions throughout America's violent society to reduce domestic/partner violence and gun violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number152503
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Aug 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Homicide
  • Physicians
  • Violence
  • Workplace Safety


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