U of U Health Medical Facility Assault

Current Status:

Although we believe this situation has been addressed in a way that should prevent future reoccurrence, those who believe they have been the target of bias, intolerance or discrimination may report an incident to the public incident report form (bias and intolerance) or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (sexual misconduct and discrimination).

Please direct any questions or concerns in regard to this bias incident to the Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

On Thursday, April 1, 2021, a patient at a University of Utah Health medical facility verbally and physically assaulted staff members.* The staff involved took the necessary steps to de-escalate the situation but were unable to avoid confrontation. This led to the staff calling for an intervention to protect the patient, other patients, and staff.  Several staff members received significant injuries. One employee who responded to assist was threatened, referred to with a racial slur, and was physically assaulted by the patient. University of Utah’s Racist and Bias Incident Response Team (RBIRT) was notified because the patient used racist language, threatened this individual, and caused physical harm. The incident was reported as a hate crime for purposes of the University’s annual CLERY report. An assessment was conducted with University Police, and it does not appear that the individual poses any further risk to University of Utah Health staff or the greater University community at this time. RBIRT is actively working with University of Utah Health staff to resolve the incident.

University of Utah Health is working to ensure that the victims of this incident — our valued employees — get the proper healing, care, and support they need. The University of Utah Health community will not ignore the pervasiveness of racism in our state and our country and will not tolerate violent and racist behavior from anyone — students, patients, faculty, staff, or visitors to our hospitals and clinics. Creating an equitable, safe, and welcoming campus is our top priority, and the University will continue to take action against those who undermine our values.

Prior to this event, as part of University of Utah Health’s ongoing commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) a new Senior Director of EDI, Mikel Whittier, has been hired to lead strategies to strengthen EDI across all University of Utah hospitals and clinics. Mikel will work with staff and administrators to determine how best to support our medical staff who may be the targets of racist behavior.

University of Utah Health has many resources available to support the staff affected directly and they are being referred to the appropriate care. 

Any staff, trainees, or faculty needing mental health support can access free services through the Employee Assistance Program (EPA) or call the 24/7 Utah Crisis Line at Huntsman Mental Health Institute1-800-273-8255 or the Utah Warm Line 833-SPEAKUT. The SafeUT Frontline Crisis Text app provides Utah healthcare providers 24/7 confidential access at no cost.

*Please note that to protect patient privacy, and in accordance with federal law, specific information about this incident is not included in this statement.

Questions & Concerns

For any questions or concerns in regard to this bias incident, please contact Brian Jay Nicholls, Special Assistant to the Chief Safety Officer, at RBIresponse@utah.edu.

For additional reporting information, please feel free to visit here.

Response process
Support Resources

If you are currently in a situation where immediate medical, police or other emergency services are needed, call 911 or University Emergency Communications at 801-585-2677 (801-585-COPS). To file a complaint regarding discrimination or sexual harassment, contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA) at 801-581-8365.

Support & resources
Report a Bias Incident

Any act of intolerance, motivated wholly or in part by bias or prejudice against an individual’s race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, size, disability, national origin, language, gender, veteran status, identity expression, sexual orientation or age—regardless of severity—can be reported using this form.

Submit a report