Hospitals reassess security after Boston surgeon shooting, but is threat overstated?

In the wake of this week's fatal shooting at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, hospitals in the area plan to revisit their security plans, the Boston Globe reports.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, there are too many entrances and exits to station metal detectors, according to Bonnie Michelman, the hospital's director of police, security and outside services. "It's a high-stress environment, and you mix that with the number of people, and people who are not able to care for themselves or their emotions--that creates some interesting complexities," she told the Globe.

Administrators at the New England Quality Care Alliance, which is affiliated with Tufts Medical Center, may issue safety guidelines to its doctors. The alliance also works to help doctors identify which patients are potential threats. Officials believe the Brigham and Women's shooter was upset over the recent death of his mother, who received treatment at the hospital. Patients or family members often make threats that they do not carry out, Massachusetts Medical Society President Richard Pieters, M.D., told the Globe, and the best way to keep this from being an issue is to communicate and connect with patients and their families.

But despite the number of hospital shootings in the news recently, their overall frequency may be overstated, according to Becker's Hospital Review. The publication references a 2012 study from the Annals of Emergency Medicine that examined 154 hospital-related shootings between 2000 and 2011 and found the shooters themselves were most likely to be the victims.

Assault and disorderly conduct are far more commonplace in hospital settings, such as in the case of a patient who assaulted nurses with a metal bar, FierceHealthcare previously reported. And recent surveys indicate that many nurses report only the most serious violent incidents.

To learn more:
- read the Globe article
- here's the Becker's article