Former patient kills his surgeon and three others at a Tulsa hospital

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On Wednesday afternoon, an aggrieved patient shot and killed four people, including his orthopedic surgeon and another doctor, at a Saint Francis Hospital outpatient clinic, before killing himself. The gunman, who blamed his surgeon for ongoing pain after a recent back surgery, reportedly purchased his AR-15-style rifle only hours before the mass shooting, which also injured 10 others. The same day as this horrific attack, an inmate receiving care at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH shot and killed a security guard, and then himself.

The Gist: On the heels of the horrendous mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, we find ourselves grappling with yet more senseless gun violence. Last week, we called on health system leaders to play a greater role in calling for gun law reforms. This week’s events show they must also ensure that their providers, team members, and patients are safe. 

Of course, that’s a tall order, as hospital campuses are open for public access, and strive to be convenient and welcoming to patients. Most health systems already staff armed security guards or police officers, have a limited number of unlocked entrances, and provide active shooter training for staff.

This week’s events remind us that our healthcare workers are not just on the front lines of dealing with the horrific outcomes of gun violence, but may find themselves in the crosshairs—adding to already rising levels of workplace violence sparked by the pandemic.

Something must change.

Oklahoma Hospital Locks Down Its ICU Following Threats to Staff

Healthcare professionals in Oklahoma who have cared for COVID-19 patients throughout the pandemic are now facing a facility lockdown due to threats made against them.

Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City upped its security and locked down its intensive care unit following online threats against the facility and its staff, mostly revolving around COVID treatments and conspiracy theories, Becker’s Hospital Review reported.

Claims made during a recent protest outside the facility and online included that the hospital had a “Fauci protocol,” and that it received government vouchers for using certain medications or treatments for COVID patients, which Mercy Hospital denied, according to Becker’s.

Hospital officials released a statement to staff on Friday, which they shared with MedPage Today. “There is truly nothing more important to us than your safety. We have a team monitoring these online attacks in real time. Every level of our ministry is deeply concerned and committed to doing whatever it takes to protect our co-workers against these baseless attacks,” they said.

“We are proud to serve with you,” they added. “We know you are tired and weary, but please try your best to put these baseless claims out of your mind. Remember, you are called to serve our patients and each other. We are praying for peace and protection over each of you, as well as the protection of all our patients and visitors, while we take action on your behalf.”

Late last week, the hospital filed a restraining order against the founder and director of an Oklahoma church group that has been protesting outside the facility and making threats against its staff online, Oklahoma’s KFOR reported.

In a recent press release, the church group, known as Ekklesia Oklahoma, called Mercy Hospital an “evil Marxist controlled death camp.”

Court documents stated that the founder of the group called one of the hospital’s doctors a “murderer,” noting that members even posted the doctor’s home address online, according to KFOR.

Hospital officials told KFOR that they are thankful for local police departments that are providing extra security for staff and patients.

Other hospitals across the U.S. have also received threats to the safety of healthcare workers in recent days.

Last week, the Massachusetts Medical Society said it was “angered” over the recent neo-Nazi protest outside Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that targeted two doctors whose work focuses on health equity.

Carole Allen, MD, MBA, president of the society, told MedPage Today that the protest outside Brigham and Women’s was a threat to healthcare workers who were just trying to do their jobs, as well as to patients, and was so disruptive that it “could endanger healthcare in general.”