Friday, November 28, 2008

Guns and hospitals

A local hospital is considering arming it's security staff. A mental health association opposes it and has went on a public relations blitz. Part of that is this statement, also published as an op-ed in a local paper.

Here is my reply to that statement:

An opposing opinion, first discussing a few points of the above statement.

according to a search of the past ten years of local news archives, OHSU has not experienced any recent gun violence.

Basing your premise on a logical fallacy is rather silly. To Play
along with you however, a quick search of nationwide hospital gun
violence news articles returns over 16,000 articles. Without doing a
case by case survey (I am not a statistician) I couldn’t find an
example in the first fifty articles that showed police or security
officer who accidentally or inappropriately shot someone. I did find
fifty articles where people came into a hospital and killed innocent
patients and/or staff.

Those off the cuff statistics show it is much less likely for an
armed security officer to shoot an innocent staff/patient than for a
criminal actor to do the same. To put that into other terms, the
treatment (armed security) has much less risk than the symptom
(hospital violence).

Helping them (ed. patients) is the mission of the hospital.

Absolutely, however it is also the hospitals’ responsibility to provide for their safety while at the hospital.

The behaviors of these people occasionally require
intervention by OHSU security guards, but we believe issuing handguns
and rifles poses a direct lethal danger to these innocent people and
those who care for them.

Adding guns as an option for OHSU security guards will result in an expensive tragedy. Someone’s going to get killed.

The correlation that “Someone’s going to get killed” being a tragedy
leaves out of the equation whether the person getting killed prevented
the more tragic death of other innocent parties. In other words, while
the death of a mentally ill person would indeed be a tragedy, if that
person’s illness was causing them to be a imminent and lethal threat to
innocent persons it would be even more tragic to not immediately stop

The case of Jose Meijia Poot, a misdiagnosed person in a
locked psychiatric ward who was shot and killed by three police
officers, illustrates how the mere presence of guns in a hospital
setting can result in tragedy and high costs. The public reaction to
the Mejia Poot shooting resulted in apologies and reparations from the
mayor, and the closure of Pacific Gateway Hospital.

I remember this case. Tragic? Yes. Preventable? Yes. A case where
police officers improperly shot? No. A tragic case of medical staff
failing to control their patient? Yes.

When shot, Jose Meijia Poot had armed himself with a dangerous
weapon and was attacking the officers. The shooting was a justified
case of the officers defending their life’s. Mr. Poot’s death was
caused by the undertrained medical staff, not by police officers’ with

Just because a person is a patient, mentally ill, injured,
suffering, depressed or in any way in need of help or treatment does
not automatically mean they are incapable of being a lethal threat to

And security guards requesting guns is always the result of under-training…


If OHSU doesn’t provide sufficient training

Is answered in your own statement:

a proposal to the OHSU Board to both train and arm security guards emphasis added

Additionally, these two apparently unrelated statements, I would like to connect:

Gun advocates might say more numerable tragedies were averted
by the mere presence of armed guards; at best an unverifiable claim.


If OHSU changes policy to allow security guards to use guns, it
is only a matter of time before one of our friends or family members is

At best an unverifiable claim.

Not only unverifiable but also a juvenile attempt at panic mongering.

No comments:

Post a Comment