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Hospital Shootings Rare, But Preparedness Still Warranted

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2012

"People now realize that regardless of what the incident is in the community, if it results in injuries or potential injuries they are all going to end up at the hospital," he says. "So the hospital is very different from the industrial or manufacturing or retail environment because we get people no matter what. If it's a train wreck, a car wreck, a terrorist event, a shooting they are all going to end up at a hospital. Security at hospitals is a more complex issue."

Warren says the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has shown a renewed interest in workplace safety at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. "OSHA is taking what once would have been a workplace violence issue and placing it under their general safety clause, which says that regardless of your industries you have to provide a safe working environment for employees," he says.

"We are seeing that more and more in a number of hospitals. I would like to say that hospitals are changing because they saw the light but it's more because they are feeling the heat, quite frankly."

All of this is occurring as reports of workplace violence in hospitals appear to be on the rise.

"I couch it because there hasn't been a clear determination. Are there more incidents or are reporting mechanisms being observed more closely? I think it is a combination," Warren says.

"We are seeing the ripple effect of the weak economy. There are a lot of people who maybe they are behavioral health patients who can't afford their medications any longer. You've got longer waits in emergency department. All those things are contributing factors."

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