I-Team: Violent crimes at hospitals on the rise

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team investigates hospital violence and whether incidents like the one Friday in Indiana are becoming more common and the results are disturbing.

MORE: Report on hospital attacks and security

The I-Team has found that violent crimes at hospitals across the United States are increasing and patients, their families and medical personnel are more at risk every day.

While the Merrillville hospital murder involved a knife, most hospital attackers use guns. Regardless of the threat, institutions that once were considered sanctuaries of healing now have to fortify their buildings and train their people to prevent violence.

"It's stress, when people are ill, people are sick, those kind of things, the emotional level gets increased, people do things that they weren't going to doif they were at peace," said Rush University Medical Center Security Director Lauris Freidenfelds.

Last November an armed fugitive looking for his girlfriend and newborn was chased by police through Milwaukee Children's Hospital before being shot and wounded.

In December it was a Nevada medical office where a patient who thought his urologist has botched a vasectomy gunned down the doctor and killed himself.

According to the latest hospital violence data, physical attacks have been increasing the past three years, with a 37 percent overall spike in reported incidents.

According to the International Association of Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation, stats from hundreds of hospitals show upturns in every category of violent crime including murder.

The murder motive breaks down the following way: A grudge or revenge accounts for 27 percent of all murders, 21 percent are suicide and 14 percent are ending the life of an ill relative.

The threat of an active shooter prompted Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to produce a video and showed it to all 16,000 employees.

"If you find yourself near or in the middle of an active shooter event at Brigham and Women's Hospital, your safety as well as the safety of our patients and their families may depend on whether or not you are prepared," the video says.

There are step-by-step instructions for dealing with an armed hospital intruder.

"You have three options: Run, hide or fight. In patient rooms beds can be used as barricades with brakes locked. As a last resort, fight applies if you find yourself face to face with a shooter and are not able to run or hide," the video advises.

"We do active threat drills to make sure we know how to shelter the place how to deal with threat most type of things because it's better to have thought about things before they happen than have to panic," Freidenfelds said.

Freidenfelds is a member of the International Healthcare Security Group studying hospital violence. Friday night he says it is unclear whether the numbers of attacks are surging or that more hospitals are reporting them and data collection is better.

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