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The Pediatric Forum
April 2002

Concealed Weapons and Children's Hospitals: A New Look at Safety in Our Changing World

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002;156(4):409. doi:10.1001/archpedi.156.4.409

Given the events surrounding September 11, 2001, the world and especially those in emergency medicine will never look at the term 911 the same way again. Have the risks changed or are we just more attuned to the realities that have been evident for quite some time? We have come to realize that all aspects of our society are at risk for nonaccidental, inflicted injuries. Children and, in particular, children's hospitals are not immune. The safety of patients and staff has been addressed in emergency departments but these issues have been predominately limited to urban adult emergency departments.1-4 While many emergency departments have implemented improved safety measures, including the addition of security personnel, secured areas, and weapon (metal) detectors, there is a paucity of data concerning enhanced safety and security measures at our children's hospitals. In particular, as recently as 1998, reports suggest that as few as 6% of pediatric emergency departments used arch-style metal detectors.5 In addition, while metal detectors might give a negative connotation to the environment, families and staff seem to feel safer if they are used.6 While perception of safety may or may not correlate with actual improved safety, the recent events in this country have brought these issues to the forefront.

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