Violence in Health Care Field a Growing Concern

by | Mar 16, 2011 | Firm News, Medical Malpractice |


In September of last year, two people died and a doctor was injured in a shooting at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. According to hospital staff, Paul Warren Pardus became upset with Dr. David Cohen after learning that a surgical procedure resulted in his mother’s paralysis.

While talking with Dr. Cohen, Pardus pulled a gun from his waistband and shot the doctor in the abdomen. Pardus then barricaded himself in his mother’s room, where he killed her before turning the gun on himself.

Dr. Cohen was immediately rushed into surgery. He spent the next 10 days in the hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.

The shooting at Johns Hopkins illustrates the growing problem of violence in healthcare institutions. In June, The Joint Commission, an independent health care oversight group, issued a report on the rising incidents of violence at healthcare facilities. According to the study, violent crimes, such as rape, assault, and murder, were on the rise in hospitals throughout the country.

Between 1995 and 2006, there were 146 incidents of assault, rape or murder in healthcare institutions. In the last three years, however, there have been 110 reports of these crimes. The Commission believes this total to be well under the actual number of incidents because these events often go unreported.

Hospital staff, visitors, and patients are all capable of violent acts. In the case of a visitor or patient, the acts are often a response to medical errors or treatment and difficult to predict or defend against. Violent acts at the hands of staff, however, typically do exhibit some warning signs. According to the report “behavioral changes, mental health issues, personal crises, drug or alcohol use, and disciplinary action or termination” can all elevate the risk of violence from a staff member towards patients or others working in the facility.

The study also notes that the open and round-the-clock nature of hospitals and other healthcare institutions make many high-traffic areas, including emergency and patient rooms, difficult to secure.

The Commission also recommends preventative steps that hospitals can take to lower the risk of violence in the facilities. The steps include increasing security in high traffic areas, thorough background checks on potential employees, educating staff about violence prevention and warning signs, and reporting all incidents of crime to law enforcement officials.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can assess your case and help you get the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact an attorney today.



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