In a perspective piece published in the Annals of Surgery one year after the fatal shooting of Michael J. Davidson, MD, at BWH, three hospital leaders share findings from an in-depth analysis of the events of that day, emergency management and security functions. Eric Goralnick, MD, MS, BWH’s medical director of Emergency Preparedness; Michael J. Zinner, MD, chair of the Department of Surgery; and Stanley W. Ashley, MD, BWH’s chief medical officer, co-wrote the February “Surgical Perspective” piece titled “A Death in the Family: Lessons From a Tragedy.”

The authors describe changes that have been made since Jan. 20, 2015, to strengthen security procedures, including adding key card locks and panic buttons in some areas of the hospital and expanding de-escalation protocols to ambulatory sites. They also note some of the protocols and preparations that had already been in place before Jan. 20, 2015, including drills and exercises to prepare for an active shooter scenario. In addition, the hospital’s decision to use explicit terms such as “life threatening situation” rather than a code announcement helped alert everyone in the hospital – including visitors, patients and family members – to the situation. The team’s after-action review revealed that those who had seen an elective active shooter training video or participated in a training exercise prior to Jan. 20 relied on their training that day. The active shooter video is now mandatory for all hospital employees, and is available in HealthStream.

“The emotional toll on our staff was significant; the resilience of our organization and its individuals has been tested,” the authors write. “Sadly, we have now joined those communities that have experienced the trauma of an active shooter. We lost a beloved colleague, a member of our hospital family. Our after-action review has unearthed lessons and actions as we balance openness and security for our patients, families, and staff. We remain resolute in our commitment to prepare and train our community for any eventuality.”

Paper cited: Goralnick E., “A Death in the Family: Lessons From a Tragedy” Annals of Surgery DOI: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001566.

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