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Mass. General Stabbing Shows Difficulties in Preventing Violence

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, October 29, 2009

"It hasn't been implemented yet as our security staff has just started training from an outside company, and the safety committee is developing a training program for all other employees, with special training for high risk areas, such as the emergency department," Hunt says.

Summa's new policy will emphasize that employees in the midst of a violent situation take the following actions:

  • Don't risk harm to yourself or others
  • Maintain eye contract with the assailant, and pay attention to what is being said by the assailant
  • Do not speak unless spoken to—follow instructions from the person who has the weapon.
  • Attempt to keep the assailant in the immediate area
  • Never try to grab the weapon
  • Await further assistance from security or responding law enforcement

It's important to talk to authorities ahead of time about the potential for violence in the hospital. "Get your local law enforcement in and pow-wow," Lange says. "Find out what is reality and what is a pipe dream" in terms of security steps, which in many cases won't deter violence from occurring, but instead will become response goals, he said.


Scott Wallask is senior managing editor for the Hospital Safety Center. He can be reached at swallask@hcpro.com.

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