Journal of Healthcare Protection Management International Association of Hospital Security and Safety (IAHSS).

By James Sawyer and Caroline Ramsey-Hamilton

Background

Every IAHSS reader knows that violence in hospitals is increasing at an increasing rate. The Joint Commission has issued Sentinel Alerts, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the bastion of the American healthcare system, published an article in October, 2010, written by two doctors about the murder-suicide at Johns Hopkins Hospital in September of 20101.
This article started as a guest blog from a security professional at a west coast children’s hospital. After the blog appeared, we received dozens of notes, letters and angry outbursts, as well as emails arguing for a more reasoned approach. This article will explore those issues, and includes quotes from the emails themselves.

Why Violence in Hospitals is Increasing

Violence is not a concept that people usually associate with hospitals. For years, hospitals have been seen as almost a sanctuary of care for the sick and wounded in our society. However, the perception of hospitals has been changing over the last fifteen years due to a variety of factors.1. Doctors are no longer thought of as “Gods”. This means they are are more easily blamed when a patient’s condition deteriorates.2. Hospitals are now regarded as businesses. This perception has been bee n aggravated by television in shows like a recent “60 Minutes”, as well as by the effects of the recession on jobs and the loss of health insurance.3. Lack of respect and resources (funding) for hospital security departments. Rather than being seen as a crucial protection for the hospital staff andpatients, many security departments are chronically underfunded and used for a variety of non- security functions, such as making bank deposits for the hospital gift shop.