A self-defence training programme for the health service, pioneered by an accident and emergency consultant, is being examined by the Health and Safety Executive.
Anthony Bleetman, a consultant at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, developed the programme with the help of police for staff facing violent patients.
Hospitals topped the list of most dangerous workplaces in a survey published last year by the TUC. The study found nurses faced the greatest risk of violence at work, with one in three reporting some kind of attack.
Mr Bleetman has met with the HSE to discuss the scheme, which is based on the "confidence resolution" model used by police. It includes instruction on physical skills, such as how to block blows, but also covers communication skills, awareness of how a violent situation may develop and techniques for defusing trouble.
Mr Bleetman said self-defence techniques are always a last resort. "You only use physical force if there are signs of trouble; if you cannot get away or call for help and you are concerned you or your colleagues will get hurt."
Giselle Lockett, organisational and development manager at Heartlands, said accident and emergency staff were particularly vulnerable to attacks.
She said the hospital is also looking to build aspects of Mr Bleetman's programme into its general staff training. "We are looking at how we can take things forward with a strategy encompassing the best of each."
An HSE spokesman said the meeting with Mr Bleetman was one of a number aimed at developing strategy and described it as "useful".