Murder of a surgeon: The Brigham and Women's incident

By Zack Budryk

The tragic murder of a Boston cardiac surgeon in January illustrates the danger of violence in the healthcare setting.

Michael J. Davidson, M.D., a surgeon at Boston's Brigham and Women's hospital (BWH), was shot and killed by a man whose mother had died the previous November. The shooter, Stephen Pasceri, then turned the gun on himself.

The murder-suicide was widely covered, and the hospital was praised for preemptive steps it took to minimize the damage (no one besides Davidson and Pasceri was hurt), such as all staff barricading themselves in separate rooms. Since January, hospital administrators say they have added three full-time security employees.

There is still disagreement among hospital leaders and the nurses' union about the security measures taken prior to Davidson's death and after. In an interview with FierceHealthcare, Trish Powers, R.N. (pictured right), the chair of the BWH/Massachusetts Nurses Association Committee, said the hospital has actually cut 20 security positions and refused to talk to nurses about security issues, an assertion that the hospital denies.

"The hospital takes the safety of its patients, visitors and staff extremely seriously," Lori Schroth, the head of media relations at BWH, told FierceHealthcare.  "We have and continue to implement best practice security protocols and training programs and make facility improvements throughout the hospital."

The hospital, Schroth said, follows an emergency response program and panic button system, which the hospital has expanded this year, adding 12 more panic buttons throughout the facility. Additionally, BWH has developed small-group training plans with its nursing staff and continues to roll out personalized physician training, she said.

Murder of a surgeon: The Brigham and Women's incident