Joint Commission Reports on Shootings in Hospitals

Some of the most horrific shootings we see occur in hospitals.  Because most people still think of hospitals as “places of refuge”,  it is always a big shock when some kind of violence or shooting occurs in a hospital, especially gun violence.

With so many active shooter incidents in the US in recent months, the Joint Commission recently released information about the number of shootings in hospitals, and found that,

They analyzed a total of 154 hospitals shootings, which took place between 2000 and 2011.  They found that 59% of the incidents took place inside the hospitals, and 41% took place outside on the hospital grounds.

Of the 59% of incident that happened INSIDE the hospital, not surprisingly, about 30% took place in the Emergency Department, and 19% in the patient rooms.   We all remember the John Hopkins incident that occurred in a room where the shooter shot his mother’s doctor, and then locked the door and killed his mother and then committed suicide.

Of the 41% of incidents that took place outside, but on the hospital’s ground, 23% took place in the parking lot, which underscores how important it is to have a designated manager for the parking facilities.  We have seen stories about a man in Tennessee who had a meth lab IN HIS CAR in the hospital parking garage, and the poor baby tossed off the roof of a parking garage.

The 154 hospital shootings resulted in a total of 235  people who were Injured or who died in the incident.   The most common
victim was the perpetrator (shooter) and that accounted for 45% of the people injured or killed. 

Another 20% of the victims were the hospital employees, including physicians (3%) and nurses (5%).

Another interesting highlight of the report, was that 50% of the shootings that took place in the
emergency departments were the result of the shooter taking the security officer’s gun!
The dramatic increase in Active Shooter incidents, including the Washington Navy Yard Shooting, the LAX
shooting and the Sparks middle school shooting all illustrate that the trend is moving toward more incidents per year, and more people dead or injured in each incident.
For example, from 2000 to 2004, there was, on average, only 3.8 active shooter incidents per year.  Then,
from 2005 – 2010, the average number of incidents per year increased to 11 incidents a year, and from
2011 to 2013, it jumped again to an average of 17 incidents per year, which is over a 300% increase from 2000.The statistics clearly show the trend of increasing gun violence in our society, and until society can find a way to reverse
the trend, hospitals will be looking at the possibilities to stop the violence at the door to their emergency department.


Source for hospital shooting data:   Hospital-Based Shootings in the United States: 2000 to 2011 by Gabor D. Kelen, MD, Christina L. Catlett, MD, Joshua G. Kubit, MD, Yu-Hsiang Hsieh, PhD