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Johns Hopkins to Host First National Symposium on Hospital Shootings - 03/04/2014

Johns Hopkins to Host First National Symposium on Hospital Shootings

Release Date: March 4, 2014
Gabor Kelen, M.D.
Gabor Kelen, M.D.
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins public health and emergency preparedness experts will host the first national symposium designed to help health care providers and staff better prepare for and react to an “active shooter” in hospitals and other the health care settings.
The April 11 symposium, “Active Shooter Incidents in Hospitals and Healthcare Settings,” will also explore the legal, moral and ethical obligations of medical institutions and their staff to protect patients when such events occur.

Symposium organizers note that in recent years, law enforcement experts have recommended that students, office workers or others confronted with an “active shooter” — an armed person on the move and firing — should decide on their own whether to run, hide or fight, depending on their individual circumstances.

But those choices don’t address the many complex responsibilities that hospital-based nurses, physicians and other health care providers have when they are caring for vulnerable patients, including the elderly, children, the very ill or incapacitated, notes Gabor D. Kelen, M.D., the director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), one of the centers hosting the all-day symposium at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel.

CEPAR oversees disaster planning and response for The Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine. The symposium’s co-sponsor is the Center for Public Health Preparedness at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“If you are a doctor or nurse and there is an armed person firing a weapon on your floor, what should you do if you have patients who can’t run, hide or fight?” says Kelen. There may be moral and ethical responsibilities to patients, he says, but the appropriate actions of frontline staff members not trained in law enforcement are undefined.  
Jonathan Links, Ph.D., director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and deputy director of CEPAR, says the challenges for caregivers have emerged as a compelling public health issue because of a spate of such hospital shootings in recent years and because there is no clear national consensus today on provider responsibilities.

Clarity on the issue will bolster the “readiness, willingness and ability” of health care workers to respond appropriately during a shooting incident, Links says.

Edbert Hsu, M.D., director of training for CEPAR, is one of the lead organizers of the event. “The focus of this symposium —what health care institutions can do to better prepare their staff — will be unique,” says Hsu.

 The symposium will feature national experts in medicine, law, ethics, hospital security and law enforcement to present research findings and innovative ideas relevant to the issue.

In addition, a consensus panel will convene to discuss ideas for a potential set of guidelines that hospital leaders nationwide could use to shape their own institutions’ policies regarding health care providers’ response to active shooters.
The panel will be facilitated by Eric Goralnick, M.D., medical director of emergency preparedness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who responded to the Boston Marathon bombing, and Leonard Marcus, co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a collaborative effort of the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Presenters include Kelen, who also serves as director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, and Christina Catlett, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and associate director of CEPAR. They co-authored a groundbreaking study on hospital shootings published in 2012 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Other presenters include Special Agent Erin Sheridan of the FBI; James Hodge, the Lincoln Professor of Health Law and Ethics and director of the Public Health Law and Policy Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University; Michael Thiel, director of security services at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; and Richard D. Zane, M.D., director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, to name a few.

“This is a tough issue to tackle,” says Kelen. “But leaders at Johns Hopkins and in medicine across the nation are determined to find solutions that best serve our patients.”


For press credentials: Members of the news media interested in attending and covering the symposium should contact Mark Guidera, [email protected] or 443-898-2320.

Symposium Details:
When: April 11, 2014, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, 700 Aliceanna St., Baltimore, MD
Cost: Free
Pre-registration required

For the Media

Media contacts:

Mark Guidera
[email protected]

Lauren Nelson
[email protected]