Dallas, TX

Is It Time for Metal Detectors in Hospitals?

Nick Reynolds

Hospital violence in the headlines is becoming more commonplace(Robert Linder/Unsplash)

The troubling trend of hospital violence continues as two hospital employees were left dead at Methodist Dallas Medical Center two weeks ago, and that's sparking more conversation as to whether or not hospitals need a heavier emphasis on security measures such as metal detectors.

The tragic event occurred when Nestor Hernandez (30) confronted his girlfriend, who had just given birth, about alleged cheating accusations. Hernandez reportedly struck his girlfriend multiple times with a gun and then turned the weapon on social worker Katie Flowers (63) and nurse Jacqueline Pokuaa (45).

There has been a series of violent incidents at U.S. hospitals in recent memory -- three of which involved fatalities. In June (again in Dallas), a patient was fatally shot when that patient pulled a gun and fired first at police. Then last November, there was a shooting outside of Baylor Medical Center in Dallas that left a man dead. That shooting occurred in the parking lot, so a metal detector wouldn't have prevented that. But still, it underscores the rise in violence that's taking place in or near our hospitals.

Other national incidents include a man shooting and killing four at a Tulsa hospital, a security guard gunned down at a hospital in Ohio, and a nursing assistant who was killed at a Philadelphia hospital.

So should hospitals have metal detectors? The obvious, easy answer is yes. Easier said than done, however. Because if it were that simple, most of our schools would have metal detectors (the majority do not) by now. The U.S. has over 6,000 hospitals. That's the second most among any country on earth. A select few do have metal detectors, but like schools, most do not. But easy or not, we've reached a point where it needs to be strongly considered.

Hospital employees are reporting a dramatic rise in violent incidents at hospitals(Hush Naidoo Jade Photography/Unsplash)

According to Becker's Hospital Review, roughly nine of every ten healthcare workers have either seen or been directly involved in some level of violence at hospitals.

That's staggering.

ER doctors backed those sobering statistics by participating in a poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians in which 85% claimed that there had been an increase in hospital violence in recent years. And over half of them said at some point that they were physically assaulted.

The majority of violent hospital incidents are physical altercations. So metal detectors won't solve everything, but it would be a sizable step in the right direction. Increased security personnel would also go a long way. The healthcare workforce is critical to our society, and they deserve to be confident in their safety when doing their jobs.

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