It’s hard to imagine what life must be like for the family of Dr. Michael J. Davidson, who was killed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston just over a week ago. The Doctor was killed by the son of a former patient who had died late last year. Whether or not the death was the result of the Doctor’s care is really here nor there, but what matters is that an upset relative of a patient took a gun, walked into a hospital, and shot and killed the doctor he felt was responsible.
It’s also hard to imagine what life is like for the staff that works at the Hospital, who experienced firsthand what it is like to be involved in an active shooter situation.
The recent snowstorms have taken precedence over this story, but it hits home with me because I have literally said to my co-workers that if a patient was going to come for someone, it just might be us.
As advocates, we try and do what is right by our patients, but since we work for the Hospital, that doesn’t always happen.
As a patient, I know that the system isn’t always fair or right.
I also know as a patient what pain can do to a person, both physically and emotionally. I know that some of the patients I have dealt with as an advocate aren’t always rational. And I always try and remain calm and defuse the situation as best I can.
But if the situation involved a gun, I have no idea what I would do.
At work, since the shooting took place at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we have been required to study an online module regarding active shooter situations, and the protocols that the Hospital has in place for such situations.
In some ways, it feels surreal to have to be studying up on this.
I guess I would have been happy to live in my naïve little world where I think I could potentially be a target but that that is actually not true.
But after last week, anyone could walk into a hospital with a gun and let loose.
Or search until they’ve found their specific target.
Hospitals should be safe places for patients, but they aren’t always.
Now they’re not safe for doctors or other hospital staff, either.
Or maybe they never were.
But in my naïve little world of working in a hospital, I used to view the Hospital as one of the safest places to be.
Now I’m not so sure.
It’s ironic that before the shooting occurred, we had been having discussions about putting a glass panel in the door of our office so that we would be able to see who is at the door, rather than just blindly opening it up.
However, the majority of patients that we speak with are over the phone and we have never met them in person.
So I am not sure what this will do. And now it seems like glass in the door could be a bigger hindrance than a help.
It’s a hard place to be, having been on both sides of it. As someone working in a hospital, I do my best, but it’s not always good enough. And as a patient, I know that the system doesn’t always work in my favor.
As patients, I don’t think that we ever really consider the safety of our doctors and other hospital personnel that we might interact with.
We are so consumed with our own care, as we should be, that we don’t stop to think about the good that our doctors and others do for us – despite the system not always working as best as it should. Sometimes we get so consumed by the negative experiences that we forget to celebrate the good.
And those who focus on the negative could obviously go to extreme measures to deal with it.
Obviously, the loss of a loved one, seemingly at the hands of another person, is devastating. But it’s even more devastating when that person resorts to violence to remedy the situation.
Not only is another family dealing with a horrible loss, but it’s affecting the way some of us feel about our jobs, and it makes us a little uneasy going to work every day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. And I’ll keep going to work every day.
I guess I should rest easier knowing that my Hospital has a plan in place, and that hopefully it will work should we ever had to need it, which hopefully we won’t,