Violent attacks at Boston hospitals reveal safety challenges

Several violent incidents in Boston hospitals within the past eight days reveal serious safety challenges for medical providers throughout the country. Many are simply unprepared for violent crime, and already have quite limited resources with bare bones security staffs. Some hospitals have well-established security procedures, while others don't know how to make the most of their dwindling resources. With recent cutbacks, many hospitals have been forced to trim security.

Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center both reported disturbing assaults within the past week. At a medical building owned by Massachusetts General, a patient allegedly stabbed a psychiatrist. A legally armed, off-duty security guard shot and killed the patient, who was wielding a knife according to Boston Police. The psychiatrist is expected to recover from her injuries. 

Also at Massachusetts General, The Boston Globe reports that last Thursday, a convicted sex offender on parole was arrested for allegedly attempting to rape an employee. The suspect allegedly grabbed the victim from behind in a women's restroom, slammed her head and ripped her clothes before the victim was able to escape.

On Sunday, according to the Globe, a man was stabbed in the waiting room at Boston Medical Center after a fight broke out between two groups of people. The victim is expected to survive, and police have not arrested any suspects. 

Some hospitals expect such incidents will continue to increase because of the fragile economy and frayed nerves of patients.

"As the economy continues to tank, domestic [violence], as well as folks facing healthcare costs that they have no way of paying, all increase the chance of an explosive episode," according to Dirk Lange, HEM, facilities manager, Marshfield, Wisconsin-based St. Joseph's Hospital. 

For more on these attacks:
- see this Boston Globe story
- read this Health Leaders article