Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s been two years since a gunman opened fire inside Johns Hopkins Hospital, shooting one of the doctors there. Now Hopkins researchers have released a new study examining shootings nationwide.
Derek Valcourt has more on what this study means for hospital security.
After the shooting many called for metal detectors at hospital doors. But the new study finds little could have been done to stop that attack or other hospital shootings.
Panic followed the gunshots two years ago inside the eighth floor of Johns Hopkins’ Nelson building.
That’s when a 50-year-old man shot Dr. David Cohen, who was caring for the man’s ailing mother. The man then shot his own mother in the head and then killed himself.
The terrifying incident had some calling for tighter hospital security.
But this new Hopkins study launched in the wake of the shooting finds gun incidents inside hospitals like Hopkins are too rare and unpredictable to be prevented.
Would more security help at hospitals?
“It’s not necessarily the answer,” said Dr. Christina Catlett, Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Catlett was part of the team who examined 154 hospital shootings in the United States from 2000 to 2011.
“And we found the vast majority of these shootings were unlikely to be prevented by metals detectors,” she said.
That’s because many shootings happen outside of the medical buildings, near entrances or in parking lots.
So, how safe are hospitals?
“These shooting incidents within hospital grounds are fairly rare,” Catlett said.“I think we tend to think that shootings at hospitals were a product of societal violence, and it really wasn’t.”
In fact, the study found almost 75 percent of the shootings within hospitals were considered targeted, meaning the shooters had a specific motive. Many held a grudge, committed suicide or wanted to end a suffering relative’s life.
The Hopkins shooter had all three of those motives.
The study also found that about one in 10 shootings were related to prisoner escapes.
Researchers at Hopkins say they’d like to see more training in de-escalation techniques for security staff and for emergency department staff so that when they see volatile situations ratcheting up they can try to help stop them.
Cohen has fully recovered from his gunshot wound and is still practicing medicine at the hospital.
For more information on the research study, click here.