It is an unfortunate fact that violence occurs in health care facilities. The Joint Commission has received reports from its accredited organizations of violent criminal events including assault, rape, homicide and suicide. Since January 2010, The Joint Commission has received reports of 16 shootings that resulted in 27 deaths. Of the 16 shootings, nine were murder/suicides, mostly mercy killings that resulted in the deaths of the patient and the shooter, who was usually the patient’s spouse or significant other. However, some cases involve an “active shooter,” an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area. Victims of an active shooter can be randomly selected, and often are health care staff.
Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm. Because active shooter situations are often over within 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives, health care organizations must prepare their staff for an active shooter situation.
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