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Hospita shootings rare, assaults frequent

BALTIMORE, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. doctors say shootings in hospitals are rare but the rate of other assaults is four times that of other workplaces.

Dr. Gabor Kelen and Dr. Christina Catlett of The Johns Hopkins Medical Centers in Baltimore say the rate of assault in all U.S. private-sector industries is 2 per 10,000 -- vs. 8 per 10,000 in healthcare workplaces.

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In a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Kelen and Catlett urge security experts to focus their efforts on preventing common everyday assaults rather than spending large sums on magnetometers and other high-tech security to prevent shootings.

"Magnetometers certainly project a protective aura; however they are not a security panacea in most healthcare settings," Kelen and Catlett say in a statement.

In fact, they say, metal detectors may provide a false sense of security. Not only do they not prevent assaults in which weapons are not used but one study found magnetometers installed in one hospital failed to decrease the number of weapons discovered in treatment areas because patients typically bypassed the detectors.

"Importantly, there was no change in the rate of assaults," the doctors add.

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