As Hospital Violence Rises, Facilities Boost Security, Including Metal Detectors


The recent shooting death of a woman in an Akron hospital bed is a reminder that hospitals aren't immune to violence, says the Columbus Dispatch. An incomplete Joint Commission count shows that violent incidents at U.S. hospitals in 2011 reached their highest level in at least 17 years. The commission, a national, nonprofit health-care accrediting agency, reviewed 49 homicides, assaults and rapes in hospitals last year but said that's only a fraction of the actual number because reporting of such incidents is voluntary.

John Wise, 66, has been charged in the Aug. 4 shooting of his wife, Barbara, in the intensive-care unit of Akron General Medical Center. She died the next morning. They had been married for 45 years. The case appears to be a mercy killing. Like other public places, hospitals must strike a balance between giving visitors freedom while ensuring their safety and that of patients and employees. “There's a fine line between having an environment that's friendly and open and one that has the feeling of being locked down,” said Mike Mandelkorn, the security director for Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center. Columbus hospitals are putting more precautions in place. Children's installed metal detectors in the emergency department of its new hospital, which opened this year. Visitors also must be included on a list of approved guests before they can access an upper floor to see an ill child. Even then, they have access only to that patient's unit. Four hospitals have begun using electronic systems in which visitors have a driver's license or other photo identification scanned and incorporated on a personalized badge.

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