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December 8, 2010

Violence in the Health Care Setting

JAMA. 2010;304(22):2530-2531. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1795

On a September morning like any other, the son of an 84-year-old woman with cancer shot her surgeon outside his mother's hospital room in our medical center. He was presumably distraught over a poor surgical outcome. After taking refuge in her room, he proceeded to kill his mother and commit suicide. The surgeon survived the shooting. This triple shooting raises fundamental issues. Has the medical workplace become inherently dangerous, and if so, why? To what extent should health institutions secure the environment?