Hospital shootings rare, but rate of other assults high, researchers find

Dec 09, 2010

Shootings like the one in which a gunman shot a doctor and killed a patient at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in September are "exceedingly rare," but the rate of other assaults on workers in U.S. health care settings is four times higher than other workplaces, conclude two Johns Hopkins emergency physicians after reviewing workplace violence in health settings.

The rate of assault in all private-sector industries in the United States is two per 10,000, compared to eight per 10,000 at health care workplaces, note Gabor D. Kelen, M.D., and Christina L. Catlett, M.D., in a commentary to be published in the Dec. 8 issue of the .

As a result, while hospital shootings get widespread media and other attention, security experts instead should focus their efforts on preventing common everyday assaults in hospitals and other , says Kelen, professor and chair of the Johns Hopkins Department of .

In the JAMA piece, Kelen and Catlett say that they determined from a review of violence in health care settings that investing heavily in magnetometers or other expensive high-tech security measures to prevent shootings, while a popular idea, isn't called for, considering how rare shootings are in health care.

"Magnetometers certainly project a protective aura; however they are not a security panacea in most health care settings," say Kelen and Catlett.

In fact, argue the authors, metal detectors may "emote a false sense of security" because they do not detect non-metallic weapons and have no effect on preventing assaults in which no weapon is used. As one reviewed report found, magnetometers installed in one hospital failed to decrease the number of weapons discovered in treatment areas because patients typically bypassed the detectors. "Importantly, there was no change in the rate of assaults," the authors write.

To further underscore their point, Kelen and Catlett found in their review of available data that many shootings at health care facilities, occurred outside, not inside.

In addition to focusing on preventing more common everyday assaults against health care providers in the workplace instead of installing sophisticated screening equipment, the authors argue that the expectation of perfect safety and security in hospitals must align itself to the realities of contemporary American life, with its high rate of violence and incivility. In short, says Kelen, security perfection in hospitals is an unreasonable expectation that can't be met.

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

More information: jama.ama-assn.org/content/304/22/2530.full

Provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Using death rates to judge hospital performance 'a bad idea'

Apr 21, 2010

Mortality rates are a poor measure of the quality of hospital care and should not be a trigger for public inquiries such as the investigation at the Mid Staffordshire hospital, argue experts in a paper published in the British ...

Rate of health care associated MRSA infections decreasing

Aug 10, 2010

An analysis of data from 2005 through 2008 of nine metropolitan areas in the U.S. indicates that health care-associated invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections decreased among patients with ...

Guided Care participants rate quality of health care high

Jan 19, 2010

Chronically ill older adults who are closely supported by a nurse-physician primary care team are twice as likely to rate their health care as high-quality than those who receive usual care, according to a study by researchers ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.