Hospitals address violence in the ER

Officials question whether metal detectors curb violent incidents
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In an effort to attract patients, L.A. County is removing metal detectors from some hospital facilities, the Los Angeles Times reported. However, victims of past hospital violence oppose the change.

Not only do metal detectors imply that urban hospitals in L.A. County are dangerous, they also aren't the best way to guarantee safety, County Department of Health Services Director Mitchell Katz told the newspaper. In fact, most of the county's hospitals use guards for protection, he noted.

Yet, as the first line of defense, opponents of the proposed removal maintain that metal detectors give patients, nurses and doctors peace of mind, helping to keep guns and knives off the premises.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph's Hospital in Maine is looking to increase security measures, asking that police officers on-duty in its emergency room have a Taser available for their use, the Bangor Daily News reported. Faced with an increase in violent incidents involving patients and visitors, the hospital is offering to pay the city up to $1,000 to purchase the equiment.

Violence has been on the rise at hospital emergency rooms in California, according to KTVU. Recently, an ER patient brought a loaded gun into Highland Hospital.

Following the incident, nurses claimed Highland management fails to respond to safety issues and stores unused metal detectors in the basement. The hospital, however, said metal detectors are inefficient and it purchased security wands for use in the ER, according to KTVU.

With increased attention on hospital violence, an Annals of Emergency Medicine study in September 2012 found that hospital shootings are rare and typically involve a "determined shooter." Researchers advised hospitals to take security precautions with firearms rather than use expensive, intrusive technologies that offer a false sense of security.

L.A. County plans to remove 26 more metal detectors by June 30 but keep screening equipment in emergency rooms.

For more:
- read the LA Times article
- here's the Bangor Daily News article
- read the KTVU piece

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