Quality & Patient Safety

Planning for active shooters in your hospital

Patient Safety Monitor, July 1, 2018

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 This March, nursing supervisor Nancy Swift was shot to death in her office at UAB Highlands Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. Swift had been reprimanding a central sterile supply worker, Trevis Coleman, when he pulled out a gun and fired on her. Afterwards, Coleman killed himself, but not before injuring an instrument management supervisor who was on campus. 


When people think of workplace violence in healthcare, they tend to think of loud verbal threats or fighting between patients and providers. However, no discussion on this topic is complete without taking into account gun violence. 

The threat of an active shooter roaming the hallways is one of the biggest fears among safety professionals and C-suite executives in the healthcare industry. Providers have been forced to endure any number of scenarios, such as disgruntled employees, drive-by shootings and gang violence, abusive exes seeking vengeance, and hostage situations.

Preparedness for active shooter situations is also on the minds of accrediting organizations and agencies such as the NFPA, which in May unveiled a new standard, NFPA 3000, to help first responders, healthcare providers, facility managers, and others prepare for an active shooter incident. CMS, The Joint Commission, and OSHA have also called for better protection of healthcare workers from workplace violence of all kinds, including active shooters, or are currently considering new standards.

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