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Armed doctor succcessfully stops threat in hospital


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  • Armed doctor succcessfully stops threat in hospital

    Hospital shooting highlights common gun rights argument

    It was a terrifying scene at a Pennsylvania hospital, where a doctor shot one of his patients three times in self-defense after the patient shot and killed a hospital employee.

    Psychiatrist Dr. Lee Silverman shot Richard Plotts, one of his patients, after Plotts pulled a gun and killed his case worker, Theresa Hunt. Plotts remains in stable but serious condition. (Via KYW-TV)

    The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Silverman had a permit for the gun and it was completely within the law for him to have it inside his office.

    However, Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital, where the incident occurred, has a strict policy that "employees are prohibited from bringing firearms or explosives of any kind into the workplace."

    Still, following the shooting, many say Silverman saved lives. Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan announced Friday that Plotts had 39 bullets with him and would likely have continued shooting if Silverman had not acted. (Via The Delaware County Daily Times)

    Fox News reports charges against Silverman are unlikely: "I just got off the phone with Yeadon Police Chief Donald Molineux, who hailed Dr. Silverman, in fact, as a hero. He believes the doctor acted in self-defense."

    Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital has not yet made a statement on the incident so it is unclear if Silverman will face disciplinary actions for violating hospital policy.

    The Christian Science Monitor points out that this situation enforces a common argument in the gun rights debate. "For gun rights activists, the situation – an armed doctor stops a rampaging patient in a gun-free zone – embodies both the public safety ironies around gun control and also points to what they argue is the real culprit in most public violence in the US: unchecked mental illness."

    The Mercury reports that Plotts did have a long history of mental health issues but the district attorney claims he was still aware his actions were wrong.

    A writer for Shall Not Be Questioned, a blog run by self-proclaimed "Second Amendment activists," argues, "You'd think this would make it clear to the other side that the problem lies with our mental health and legal systems."

    But, citing a study published in the Annals of Epidemiology that examined gun violence and mental illness, a writer for Forbes claims, “When people with mental illness do act violently it is typically for the same reasons that people without mental illness act violently.”

    The motive in this shooting has not yet been announced but the Philadelphia Inquirer claims Plotts had expressed anger at the hospital's gun policy in the past.

  • #2

    A dilemma of sorts for the 'gun control' crowd AND hospital administrators.

    If they discipline the doctor, they'll be seen as persecuting a hero and going after the good guy. If they don't, then the message will be sent that the "No guns" policy is a joke.

    The gun-haters have just been dealt a blow on two fronts. First, a good guy with a gun stopped a bad guy and quite likely saved many lives. Second, the idiocy of the "gun free zone" has just been illustrated once again.

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.


    "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."


    • #3
      I am sure he will face some kind of disciplinary action.


      • #4
        The no guns policy is a ****ing joke. The company that runs my hospital doesn't have any armed guards. Doesn't matter if you're in a suburb hospital like mine or if you're in Central Phoenix. Everyone is unarmed. However my company is known nationally for it's K9 program which working with that K9 you'd be surprised how effective it is in a hospital setting. But still that K9 is great when dealing with psychs, druggies, and crowd control but it's not going to be able to do anything in an active shooter situation.

        It's unfortunate but really the only way something is going to change is from the result of a massacre. Everyone I've worked with has talked about it and we all know it's going to happen. Only a matter of when and where.

        EDIT: This is a good article that was kind of passed around the office. Written by a Doctor but he is 100% on point.

        May 15, 2012
        While visiting in New England recently I tried to find out how many local EDs had armed guards and metal detectors. I would say less than one quarter. The one thing these hospitals that have metal detectors and armed guards have in common is that they have already had a violent incident, almost always a shooting incident, in their treatment area or waiting room.

        If one or more of your ED physicians or nurses have been gunned down in the ED, or several patients in your waiting room, metal detectors and armed guards are suddenly a no-brainer. Besides the cost of metal detectors and armed guards, one of the chief reasons that hospitals fight these two things is because they project the idea that the hospital, and specifically the ED, is a dangerous place. Well, the facts can only be suppressed for so long. Hospitals and EDs are statistically the most dangerous workplaces in this country. Mull that over for a minute.

        I know that you thought those guys catching king crabs in Alaska had the most dangerous job, but it isn’t so. As I pointed out in a previous post, over 60 per cent of all assaults in the workplace occur in a healthcare setting. The overwhelming majority of victims are women with nurse’s aides having the highest number of assaults and RNs next. The ED is the most common site of an assault. So stop looking down your nose at postal workers.

        I visited Washington recently and noted that almost every building was protected by metal detectors and armed guards. They must know something. If metal detectors and armed guards were ineffective at making an area secure, then why are they in every airport in the country? They obviously work. If the ED is truly the most dangerous workplace in America, why doesn’t every ED already have these proven safety features?

        The size of the ED or town does not matter. Had you ever heard of Columbine before some deranged person decided to start shooting at this school? My point is that the factors which make EDs so dangerous are everywhere and increasing. These factors are in every community, and the ED is the final common pathway for everyone with violent behavioral problems. EMTALA is not going away. The professional ED patient has been emboldened in his violence toward hospital employees because he knows it is very unlikely that he will be prosecuted.

        In Virginia, funding for mental health has undergone drastic cuts, with more cuts planned for the years ahead. This means more paranoid schizophrenics wandering the streets and ending up waiting for days in the ED for a psych bed to appear in a hospital somewhere in the state. My personal experience is that most of these potentially violent psych patients leave before a bed is found. Don’t expect policemen to stop calling a 911 ambulance to bring in every inebriated person on the street. Don’t expect hospitals to stop boarding admitted patients all night in the ED. Now that drug seakers know that ED physicians will be punished for not making them happy, don’t expect to see less of them. Press Ganey rules. Happy patients outrank security.

        I have already outlined the advantages of having a certified, armed, uniformed guard on duty. You would need at least one such guard to legally confiscate a weapon. Unarmed security guards are of no value if the only person in your ED with a 9 mm pistol is a paranoid schizophrenic.

        This brings me to ACEP and ENA. The groups that would seem to gain the most by having armed protection on site do not even list metal detectors or armed guards as one of their priorities in their position papers on violence. Of course, neither administrators nor physicians want to scare patients away by installing devices and personnel that suggest that the ED is a dangerous place. Those hospitals that have suffered tragic shootings don’t have this objection anymore. Personally, I believe that patients and staff would feel much safer with metal detectors and armed guards. I know I would.

        The physicians who wrote the 2012 ACEP position paper on violence do not have the advantage that I have. My 38 years in the pit are over. These physicians are still employed by somebody who can be punished for taking a position that will cost hospitals millions of dollars. One of the most ridiculous objections I have seen to having armed guards is fear that someone will take the officer’s gun away from him. In all of the tragic shootings that I have read about in hospitals, fast-food restaurants, and schools, not a single one of these began by someone taking a gun away from an officer. Wake up to the fact that guns are easy to come by and it is a given that they are already in your ED. Criminals don’t need to take guns from officers. They likely have more deadly weapons than the police.

        The reason that ACEP and ENA do not have a clear recommendation for metal detectors and armed guards cannot be due to a lack of demonstrated need for security. The number of violent incidents in the ED is accelerating in tandem with the number of alcohol and drug visitors and the number of psych patients. This information is readily available to anyone who has a computer and can spell Google.

        Virginia is fortunate in one respect. Some states have no laws whatsoever protecting healthcare workers. What Virginia has going for it is a law regarding armed, certified, uniformed security guards. In Virginia, and in some other states, these guards have all of the powers of a policeman in the area they are hired to protect. They can hand out a summons on the spot if a patient slapped a nurse. They can arrest people. They have the same “limited immunity” to touch people that policemen have.

        Every indicator we have says that violence will get worse in our EDs. Is it a question of how much blood is required in the floor for us to come together and make this a priority? Virginia Tech didn’t think they needed armed guards. Columbine didn’t think they needed armed guards. Each time I hear of another shootout it is clearer to me that this is a national problem.

        Think about it this way. There may be as many as five or six semiautomatic pistols in the pockets of people in your emergency department, but none in the hands of anyone on your side. It only takes one pistol with a 13-15 round clip in the hand of one paranoid schizophrenic to murder your entire staff, simply because he is tired of waiting. Currently, most hospitals are buzzing this fellow right through the key pad entry into the treatment area without searching him or making him walk through a metal detector.

        Anyone who has worked in a metropolitan area has probably experienced just how fragile our system of emergency departments are. An entire city with five or six hospitals can be brought to its knees by as few as 50 trauma patients. We are woefully unprepared for the disaster that dumps hundreds or even thousands at our doorstep. One of the first things that will happen in a mass casualty disaster–hurricane, power grid loss for any reason, flood, biological or nuclear accident or terrorist attack—is a run on the ED.

        Under these circumstances, any person who owns a gun is likely to have it in his pocket. Wouldn’t you have your gun to protect your family if there was no power and anarchy ruled the streets? If we do not have metal detectors and armed guards already in place, who is going to protect the healthcare workers under these kinds of circumstances? How many employees would leave the relative safety of their own homes to go to an unsecured area full of desperate people? A hospital can call in extra security, but it can’t install metal detectors or hire certified armed guards in an hour.

        I believe that hospitals throughout the country that do not install metal detectors and hire 24/7 armed, uniform guards are in a precarious legal situation, much worse than Virginia Tech. If Virginia Tech can successfully be sued for inadequate security measures, how can a hospital, a place that concentrates violent people, possibly avoid being prosecuted for not providing adequate security when the inevitable tragedy occurs? The risks are clear and accelerating. The consequences of lack of action are clear. Has someone made the financial decision that it would be cheaper to pay the claims to the families of dead patients, employees, and visitors than take appropriate security measures?

        I believe that the American College of Emergency Physicians may also be liable for their inaction. Who else should better understand the risks? At the very least they should change their position statement to reflect reality. They should be out front leading the fight for adequate security in every ED.

        I feel that the Emergency Nurses Association must stand up for itself and be clear about what it wants. There are people who want to help you. But if you can’t make up your mind whether you want metal detectors and armed, certified security guards protecting you 24/7, you should expect that your situation will not improve. The vague recommendations of ACEP and ENA about violence in the ED have been ineffective. ED violence is getting further and further out of control. The factors that drive ED violence are accelerating. ACEP and ENA have played right into the hands of the hospital corporations, who don’t want to spend the money anyway.

        For once, can’t we act before another senseless death occurs in our emergency departments?

        Charles C. Anderson M.D. FACP, FACEP
        Last edited by Miller11x; 07-28-2014, 04:25 AM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Miller11x View Post
          It's unfortunate but really the only way something is going to change is from the result of a massacre. Everyone I've worked with has talked about it and we all know it's going to happen. Only a matter of when and where.
          Where? Where the welcome signs are most prominently displayed would be my guess. Because mass shooters are people too, and just like you & me, they have every right to a safe work environment without worrying about getting shot:

          List of Islamic terror attacks in the last 30 days


          • #6
            ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuussssshhhhh. You are not supposed to let this information out. Guns=bad Gun control=good. If you let people know that if they legally carry a gun they can make a difference they will all want one. Then where would we be. Damn, don't you people know the natural order of things.
            Stupid has no color or race, everyone can participate.


            • #7
              Originally posted by IAM Rand View Post
              Guns=bad Gun control=good.
              Yeah, I'm still kinda shocked that a *doctor* had a gun. Supposedly doctors are against guns, cause they're a "public health menace"..... Good for this guy, but I bet he still gets disciplined.


              • #8
                Originally posted by JustAJ View Post
                Yeah, I'm still kinda shocked that a *doctor* had a gun. Supposedly doctors are against guns, cause they're a "public health menace"..... Good for this guy, but I bet he still gets disciplined.
                I regularly shoot with a couple MD's at my local range
                My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


                • #9
                  My Dad is a Doctor and always had a gun on him or in his desk. He did some travel work to Barrow Alaska and some of the remote villages and said it was one of the scariest things he had ever done (he was also a combat medic in vietnam) because they would get crazy wanting drugs or him to write them disability claims, The company he contracted with said no more on him having a firearm, he was on a plane home the next day he said it wasnt worth it.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by VA Dutch View Post
                    A dilemma of sorts for the 'gun control' crowd AND hospital administrators.

                    If they discipline the doctor, they'll be seen as persecuting a hero and going after the good guy. If they don't, then the message will be sent that the "No guns" policy is a joke.
                    Unfortunately, administrators that disallow guns are never critisized when their policies contribute to defenseless people.

                    If guns are allowed somewhere, and an accident or attempted defense causes harm, the person that allowed guns in that scenario will have their head on a pike. It was their fault, they never should have allowed weapons near kids. They bear the responsibility.

                    If guns are not allowed and defenseless people are hurt, everyone cries, lights a candle, and bemoans the 'senseless' voilence. Nothing could have been done, there was no solution. No one ever fires the guy that put up the 'no guns' sign. The insurance company, that forced the hand of the board of directors of the shopping mall/school/restaurant/daycare to enact the policies, is never questioned why they didn't think something like this could occur as a result. Too bad, so sad, move on. At best, someone files a lawsuit on the grounds that adequate security was not provided and it is settled out of court with no media attention or recognition.

                    I don't think this is going to change unless the people that enact these policies are squeezed hard ahead of time to show their plan for such a scenario. You don't want to allow people to carry guns in your gun free zone? Fine. Show me HOW you make it a gun free zone. Show me your plan for dealing with an active shooter. Show me your planned response for a person walking past a $7 mall cop at the front desk with a weapon. Oh, all that stuff costs money and makes people feel uncomfortable? Good. Now you're learning to make hard decisions.


                    • #11
                      From some reason, the "sitting duck zones" have not caught on in Israel. Well, what do they know about security?


                      List of Islamic terror attacks in the last 30 days


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