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Physical violence more common in healthcare facilities than hacking and cyber attacks, survey shows

Almost a quarter of healthcare security directors at hospitals think their facilities are unprepared for incidents involving a shooter.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

More than twice as many hospitals have experienced physical violence incidents as compared to hacking and cyberattacks, according to a research study among top security directors at healthcare facilities.

The report shows 47 percent of survey respondents reported an increase over last year in physical violence while only 21 percent cited an increase in external hacking attacks.

Another finding is that almost a quarter of healthcare security directors at hospitals think their facilities are unprepared for incidents involving a shooter. Many security directors are reporting an increase in attacks inside healthcare facilities.

Because hospitals and physicians are on the front lines dealing with injury from gun violence, the American Medical Association has officially called such incidents a public health crisis.

Despite the uptick in violence, many hospitals do not have adequate protective equipment and systems. For example, the report shows that only 7 percent of hospitals overall reported using walk-through metal detection equipment in the emergency department.

A 2017 study published in Health Affairs shows firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, having killed 36,252 people in 2015 alone, and they also impose a $2.9 billion dollar burden on hospitals annually.

The authors said only motor vehicle accidents and poisonings kill more people each year, but there is limited data on contemporary epidemiological trends and risk factors for firearm-related injuries.

In April, Kaiser Permanente announced that it was investing $2 million to research gun violence in the hopes of abating gun injuries and death. Kaiser Permanente physicians and nurses treated more than 11,000 victims of gunshot wounds in 2016 and 2017 the system said.

The move falls in line with the growing demand for gun violence research and prevention, especially following the tragic school shooting in Parkland Florida that killed 17 people, many of them students. The last few years have seen other mass shootings as well, including the shooting in Las Vegas last October that killed 59 people and the Pulse NIghtclub shooting which took the lives of 49 people. Countless others were injured or affected by the incidents.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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