Guns in hospitals? MGH guards go with pepper spray

579 mill tower MGH

MGH 2010

Deep into a disturbing  New York Times story on hospital guards who shoot patients, find a passing reference to Massachusetts General Hospital’s security program.

(More on guns in hospitals here.  It has been about a year since the son of a patient walked into the Brigham and fatally shot a doctor. 

From the Times:

To protect their corridors, 52 percent of medical centers reported that their security personnel carried handguns and 47 percent said they used Tasers, according to a 2014 national survey, more than double estimates from studies just three years before. Institutions that prohibit them argue that such weapons — and security guards not adequately trained to work in medical settings — add a dangerous element in an already tense environment. They say many other steps can be taken to address problems, particularly with the mentally ill.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for example, sends some of its security officers through the state police academy, but the strongest weapon they carry is pepper spray, which has been used only 11 times in 10 years. In New York City’s public hospital system, which runs several of the 20 busiest emergency rooms in the country, security personnel carry nothing more than plastic wrist restraints. (Like many other hospitals, the system coordinates with the local police for crises its staff cannot handle.)

“Tasers and guns send a bad message in a health care facility,” said Antonio D. Martin, the system’s executive vice president for security. “I have some concerns about even having uniforms because I think that could agitate some patients.”

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