This past July a man entered the emergency room at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Fla., proceeded to the third floor of the hospital, and shot and killed an 88-year-old patient and a 36-year-old hospital employee, apparently in a random act of violence. Hospital security officers quickly tackled the shooter and held him until police arrived.

In another very violent incident that took place in November 2014, a man being treated in the emergency room of Highland Park Hospital reportedly became agitated and began acting aggressively toward hospital staff, drawing a gun from his waistband. According to an article published on Nov. 19, 2014, at, “Two Highland Park police officers fired nine shots in about 1.7 seconds, officials have said, after failed attempts to persuade Anderson to drop his gun.” The man was subsequently pronounced dead. A distressing video of the incident can be seen at

From the more infrequent cases involving active shooters, to everyday acts of hostility such as being scratched or spat upon, healthcare workers are often put in perilous situations. In an article published in April 2016 by CBC News titled, “Workplace violence against health-care workers under-reported, largely ignored,” a source was cited as saying that “nurses are repeatedly told that violence comes with the job.” The article states that nurses are “reluctant to lay assault charges because often the patient has mental health issues, dementia or has problems with substance abuse.” (See the full story at

This month’s cover story, “Response to Violence,” addresses this alarming issue by exploring a three-pronged approach to mitigating risk through facility design, security technology, and staff training — with training as the most important aspect of these three. “Learning to recognize aggression from the earliest possible warning signs, as well as training to deal with specific patient populations can be very helpful,” the article states. Our story begins on p. 10.


Laura Stepanek

Editor, SDM Magazine