Maternity wards are often locked, and the comings and goings of visitors and family are heavily monitored. Hospitals also tightly control babies' whereabouts; in some hospitals, babies wear security bracelets that trigger an alarm if they're carried beyond designated boundaries.
Penalties for lax security can be hefty: Last year, Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, in Santa Barbara County, CA, was fined $50,000 after hospital staff failed to prevent a newborn from being abducted from the mother's room.
A HealthLeaders Media story reported that "the facility 'had no access control policy in place, i.e.: a defined methodology of who can come, go, and how to limit access to the security-sensitive MIU.' Also, state documents indicate that 'nurses were utilized as the access control mechanism, but were not adequately trained and when busy could not account for visitors or the security of the unit.'"
If the nurses involved in the Kennedy incident were simply trying to do their jobs, it's even more disturbing that they might have been hurt in the process. Of course, nurses are no strangers to violent and aggressive behavior.
Violence against nurses is "prevalent," according to 2009 research by the Emergency Nurses Association, which found that of 3,465 registered nurses who work in EDs or trauma centers in every state, one in four had experienced physical violence more than 20 times in the past three years.