This one (unfortunately) is not going away

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

As I write this, it is the anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and (without engaging in any politically inclined debate) I think you could make the case that the need for hospitals and other healthcare facilities to prioritize protections from active shooters has not diminished over time. (There’s probably a case to be made that the risks have increased over time, but that’s part of your job to determine.)

I know that we chatted about this last week (and I really hate ending the year on such a “down” note, but there are a couple more items that I wanted to share with you without straying into polemic (who, me?).

Recognizing that the CMS guidance, while not exactly expected, certainly couldn’t have come as a surprise, the risk potential impacts everyone within the healthcare system and anything approaching collateral damage can only be managed by realistic strategies for abating/mitigating those risks. While I’m certainly hoping for it, I’m still not convinced that every instance is preventable in the normal sense, but it is also certain that we can (and must) do a better job at responding to these types of events.

To that end, a few weeks ago, the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS) Council on Guidelines announced a revised Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Plan that “provides a framework for the Plan to include preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery from an active shooter or hostile event.” The only “hitch” is that the ASHER Plan is available only to members (membership is about $150), but I think that, particularly if I had operational responsibility for security, I would really consider membership.

With the increasing attentions being paid to the risks associated with security management, having access to expert content and a group of peers should be considered a positive (I know, budgets are tight, but sometimes you have to expand your access to resources). You can read about the revised ASHER Plan and find out about the Association here:

And just so you don’t think I’m the lone voice (not that you ever would), I think you’ll find Tim Richards’ latest blog of value in setting the stage for future security risk improvements. Over the past almost three years we’ve demonstrated that we can responsibly respond to a global pandemic, and you could say that (among other things) the risks associated with violence in the workplace represent a different kind of pandemic, but definitely one to which we must respond—it’s the right thing to do!

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at