Word spread through an Oregon hospital last month that a man man might try to abduct his partner’s newborn. Hours later, the visitor opened fire, killing a security guard and sending patients, nurses and doctors scrambling for cover.
The shooting at Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland was part of a wave of gun violence sweeping through U.S. hospitals and medical centers, which have struggled to adapt to the growing threats, reports the Associated Press.
Such attacks have made health care one of the nation’s most violent fields. U.S. health care workers now suffer more nonfatal injuries from workplace violence than workers in any other profession, including law enforcement.
“Health care workers don’t even think about that when they decide they want to be a nurse or a doctor. But as far as actual violence goes, statistically, health care is four or five times more dangerous than any other profession,” said Michael D’Angelo, a former police officer who focuses on health care and workplace violence as a Florida security consultant.
Last year, a man killed two Dallas hospital workers while there to watch his child’s birth. In May, a man opened fire in a medical center waiting room in Atlanta, killing one woman and wounding four.
Last month, a man shot and wounded a doctor at a health center in Dallas. In June 2022, a gunman killed his surgeon and three other people at a Tulsa, Ok., medical office because he blamed the doctor for his continuing pain after an operation.
Health care workers accounted for 73% of all nonfatal workplace violence injuries in 2018, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Around 40 states have passed laws creating or increasing penalties for violence against health care workers, according to the American Nurses Association. Hospitals have armed security officers with batons, stun guns or handguns, while some states, including Indiana, Ohio and Georgia, allow hospitals to create police forces.