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Hospital Shootings Rare, But Preparedness Still Warranted

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

Gabe Kelen, MD, the report's lead author and the director of the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine, said in the study that it would have been difficult to prevent many of the shootings they reviewed because the crimes involved a "determined shooter with a specific target."

Common motives for shootings included grudges or revenge, suicide, and euthanizing an ill relative. The report examined the years 2000–2011 and included a Sept. 16, 2010 shooting at the Baltimore-based health system in which a distraught gunman shot a physician, and then killed his ailing mother and himself.

Rather than spending money on metal detectors and other security checkpoints, the report suggests that the best deterrents include specialized training for hospital law enforcement and security teams, with an emphasis on the proper securing of firearms.

Metal detectors create a false sense of security, the report said, and do nothing to address the more than 40% of shootings that occur on hospital properties outside of buildings. Plus, hospitals have unique demands for 24-hour public access that require multiple entrances and exits to accommodate large numbers of people.

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