A shooting and subsequent suicide at KU Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas late on Monday night shows why hospitals, especially hospitals with top flight trauma centers, can be dangerous places.
At about 11:30 p.m. on Monday, a man shot and wounded a couple near Seventh Street and Osage Avenue in KCK. As of this writing, the names of those involved have not been released, nor has the motive been reported. Understandably, the wounded couple rushed to KU Hospital. Hoping to finish the job, the shooter followed.
When the male victim tried to run into the hospital, the shooter shot him again. The man is not expected to live. The man then turned the gun on himself and ended the drama.
During the extended and often hysterical debate in 2017 about allowing concealed carry in the state’s hospitals–the opposition carried the day–there was little talk about just how hazardous an environment hospitals can be.
In fact, health care workers are four times more likely to be subject to serious violence on the job than workers in other industries. This may come as a revelation to those who followed the debate about Kansas gun laws. In none of the articles the Sentinel reviewed, including a lengthy one in the Washington Post in May 2017, was there any mention of a pre-existing problem.
Patients are responsible for 80 percent of the reported violence. The problem is worse than the numbers suggest as health care workers often fail to report routine violent encounters with patients. The New England Journal of Medicine describes the violence phenomenon, in fact, as “seriously underreported.”
Dave Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA), told the Star in 2017 that the problem has always existed but seems to be getting worse. “It’s become a profound issue,” he said, “instead of just an issue.”
The MHA is using federal grant money to train hospital staff on how to deal with violence. Most of the training involves teaching hospital workers how to de-escalate tense situations when patients become aggressive. “If it becomes escalated,” said trainer Keith Payne, “we give [workers] the tangible tools to be able to de-escalate them.”
Payne added, “We do not want them to go hands on unless we have to, but we need the tools in case we do.” By “tools” Payne was apparently referring to the basic martial arts skill that his organization teaches.
As was evident at KU Hospital last night, martial arts are no match for a madman with a gun.