IAHSS weighs in on Johns Hopkins hospital shootings study
YARMOUTH, Maine—The recent Johns Hopkins report on hospital shootings in the United States provides valuable information to bolster security programs, but it did a disservice by not discussing the importance of security training, says Bryan Warren, president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety.
“It gives me some good numbers if I’m considering installing metal detectors at my hospital,” Warren said, “and I understand the report had a specific focus—all studies can’t be all things to all people—but it perhaps gives the perception that security at hospitals is not as vital as it is.”
The report, which covered 154 hospital shootings in 40 states from 2000 to 2011, concluded in part that “such events are relatively rare when compared with other forms of workplace violence.”
Some news reports that followed the release of the study noted that a person is “more likely to be struck by lightning than to get shot in a hospital or its parking lot,” Warren said. But he cited Department of Labor statistics that say a person is eight times as likely to be a victim of workplace violence in a health-care setting than in any other.
“There are 5,000 or so hospitals in the U.S. and you would be surprised at how many,” including mid-sized to large facilities, that don’t have trained security professionals on staff, he said. “They have their maintenance or plant operation personnel wear the security hat as needed.”
Certified security-training programs for hospitals are readily accessible throughout the country, he said, including those at IAHSS, which offers four certification levels from basic to management.
Warren, who is the senior manager for corporate security at Carolinas Healthcare System, also said he wished the report had mentioned a multidisciplinary approach to decision-making processes where security is concerned, including the involvement of medical staff and local law enforcement during the renovation and construction of health care facilities. “Security people need to be involved to look at the physical environment, lines of sight, landscaping. Security should be invited upfront in the planning stages of all new buildings,” he said.
Should hospital security officers be armed? “That is a case-by-case scenario, it requires someone to look at historical issues, the physical layout and other factors,” Warren said. “It’s complicated. You don’t want your maintenance people making that decision.”