Policies on Pt.s bringing Weapons/Guns onto facility grounds?

  1. Here's my question; What is your facility policy on Pt.s bringing weopons including guns & ammo onto facility grounds?

    Today I had a pt. coming in for admission for substance abuse and when we searched luggage found a loaded clip for a 9mm gun. Pt admitted the gun was in the trunk of his car that he kept in in there to take to & from target practice and "forgot" it was in there. Okkkk, if so then why did he remember to pack his loaded clip for the Glock? I got a bad bad feeeling in my gut.

    We called our sup who conferred with the DON and said the Pt.s family was to pick up the car/gun and we kept the ammo & locked it up seperate and will not give to family. I told my Sup I was having NOTHING to do with it and felt the Police should have been contacted to pick up the gun & hold it until Pt.s discharge from facility. My Sup told me we could not have police pick up & hold the weapon because it would violite his rights under HIPPA,, WTH? Am I missing something here?

    I am so uncomfortable with this whole thing. Pt did give up his car keys to us, but pt.s here do not have to give up their keys this is a voluntary facility not a lock down. We have had several incidents of pt.s surrendering weapons to nursing staff here #3 with me the past yr and the weapons are returned to them upon discharge. Basically we have NO weapons policy for patients and this could have been a real tragedy in my opinion on many levels had we not found the clip & he kept his keys.

    Security here is rent-a-cop with no weapons carried and they are a visual presence only and are not allowed ot restrain a pt we are to call 911 if things escalate to that point.

    Does the handling of this sound appropriate & or safe to you? I'd really like to get perspective here.

    Thanks,
    Ms.P
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    About MsPiggy

    Joined: Oct '06; Posts: 139; Likes: 60
    case manager, BCCCP; from US
    Specialty: 22 year(s) of experience in med-surg,sa,breast & cervical ca

    22 Comments

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    In a word: NO.

    I don't know what the laws are in your state or city, but I think that in cases like this, patient and staff safety trumps "rights". In your situation, I'd think a chat with the police would be in order, along with a conference with your risk manager and administration. You all need to be on the same page when an item in a patient's possession poses risk to other pts. and staff.

    Good luck to you!
  4. by   classicdame
    well, in Texas a lot of people carry guns. But they are not allowed on the premises, at least not visibly. In this scenario I would have notified Security who would have placed the gun in a safe until the patient was discharged. No need to get police at this point.
  5. by   blueheaven
    In our facility there is posted No contraband! It is a federal offence to have guns, knives, etc. Our officers are government officers and they can and will confiscate it. I cannot believe (then again yes I can) that any facility would not have a policy addressing this issue in this day and age of nuts and fruits!
  6. by   MsPiggy
    Lots of people carry concealed here too, what made my stomach flip-flop was this this pt. packed his ammo in his luggage. You don't put your ammo in luggage to go to target practice, kwim?
    Ms.P
  7. by   Ex130Load
    Finding a client in possession of a loaded weapon would unnerve me initially, but not necessarily enough so that I'd insist on contacting security or law enforcement unless it was hospital policy. If your facility doesn't have a policy regarding weapons, I think it would be good idea to discuss it. A loaded clip is less dangerous than the three inch or bigger knife many men carry for cutting this-es and that-s or as part of their profession.

    I'm intrigued with the original poster's statement "... And said the Pt.s family was to pick up the car/gun and we kept the ammo & locked it up seperate and will not give to family." Legalities could be an issue. The facility has confiscated property that I suspect is legally permissible and won't return it to the owner or relatives for whatever duration. To my knowledge, law enforcement agencies and governments are the only ones permitted confiscation powers with due cause. If I was legally permitted to possess a loaded clip and someone confiscated it without allowing family or friends to remove it from hospital property, the issue would be far from dead. I'm getting way off topic...

    HIPPA? What is the connection between HIPPA and a loaded clip?

    Like one poster mentioned, some states have large populations legally carrying weapons. Many of them are concealed. I've yet to hear of a problem in my state within anyone acting non-judiciously or inappropriately with a concealed firearm who was permitted to legally carry one. This population profoundly avoids publicity as it counters the usual purpose of having a concealed weapon. I'm emphasizing legally permitted and responsible use of loaded firearms, concealed or otherwise.

    On many federal properties, it is illegal to possess a loaded weapon, especially concealed. At other sites, that isn't so except for the "concealed" part. A weapon, loaded or otherwise, can be bad idea, especially with mind altering meds or pathologies. I'm sure some facilities don't have a weapons policy because it hasn't been a problem.

    I wouldn't necessarily be quick to contact the police. Perhaps in another situation, the client is an off-duty or retired law enforcement officer. Then too, maybe the person is a business man/woman who often carries large sums of money or valuables and routinely carries a weapon for protection. Many of these folks carry a weapon out of habit. I habitually carry my wallet, finger nail clippers, and a comb when leaving the house. Thus, I wouldn't find it necessarily unusual to discover a person carrying only a clip or an unloaded weapon as some facilities and businesses expressly prohibit them. The owner often will separate a weapon from ammo to be in compliance. Me personally, if possible, I'll retain the weapon as I don't want it stolen in case my parked car is burglarized, but I'm getting way off track again...

    Just some ideas to consider.
  8. by   ZASHAGALKA
    Texas' concealed carry law prohibits guns being brought into certain areas: banks, gov't buildings, and yes, hospitals.

    Every entrance to every hospital has a State Law notice that clearly states that the concealed carry law does NOT allow guns to be brought into hospitals. Every concealed carry course teaches this. It's part of the course.

    That being said, I remember one time removing a loaded 9mm cocked and chambered with no safety from a confused old farmer that I was about to stick an IV into. . . He was just used to carrying, and for good reason. On further search, he had 1400 cash on him. . .

    (If I had been smart and unethical, I'd of not mentioned it and kept it. Talk about the perfect untraceable 'drop piece'! But that's my suspicion of gov't at work. In the end, I DID turn it over to the police and THEY returned it to the family. There was no bad or criminal intent, and so, no criminal sanction needed to address the issue.)

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    Last edit by ZASHAGALKA on Apr 6, '07
  9. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from ZASHAGALKA
    Texas' concealed carry law prohibits guns being brought into certain areas: banks, gov't buildings, and yes, hospitals.

    Every entrance to every hospital has a State Law notice that clearly states that the concealed carry law does NOT allow guns to be brought into hospitals. Every concealed carry course teaches this. It's part of the course.

    That being said, I remember one time removing a loaded 9mm cocked and chambered with no safety from a confused old farmer that I was about to stick an IV into. . . He was just used to carrying, and for good reason. On further search, he had 1400 cash on him. . .

    (If I had been smart and unethical, I'd of not mentioned it and kept it. Talk about the perfect untraceable 'drop piece'! But that's my suspicion of gov't at work. In the end, I DID turn it over to the police and THEY returned it to the family. There was no bad or criminal intent, and so, no criminal sanction needed to address the issue.)

    ~faith,
    Timothy.
    I've taken police firearms training myself, and what I was taught was that there are certain places where you just don't take a gun---not even with a concealed-weapons permit (which I just renewed not too long ago, BTW): schools, churches, federal and state buildings, and HOSPITALS among them. This is really a no-brainer. So is the administration in the OP's original post.
  10. by   MsPiggy
    Interesting thread, I'm the OP so I'd like to clarify, the reasons (that I was told) Management locked the loaded clip and didn't give to the wife whom picked up the gun was the possible liabilty if she shot herself or someone else. I am not clear on what the law is where I live concerning concealed weaons etc. I do know you can carry a shotgun/rifle in the trunk of your car with the ammo seperate for target practice to and from the gun range ONLY, which is what the client told us he did & "forgot" the gun was in the trunk of his car. This would have been a believable thing to me if he hadn't had the loaded clip packed in his luggage and brought it with him into the hospital.

    That's when I got uncomfortable with the whole thing. I have had many weapons surrendered to me, large knives, switchblades and the like and all have been held in lockup & returned to pt.s upon discharge, the incident today frightened me because of where the ammo was found & the mental status of the patient.

    I'm not sure of the legalities of handing off a weapon to a family member it is not registered too either? Because it was such a unusual circumstance I refused involvement with any of it & my Sup & security took care of it..

    Thanks for all the great responses! It's just a bit scary to me because we have no protection and deal with a lot of folks in a bad frame of mind. It makes me take pause to think about it that's for sure. I thought police should be called to hold the weapon for the pt until his discharge because I didn't think it should be given to a family member & my Su said we would not keep a firearm locked up on site. Would it be a hippa violation if gun was legally registered and police were just holding it until claimed by patient? They are bound by hippa laws also, correct? I know if someone is pulled over here & their car impounded if they have a weapon in the trunk, even legal it is taken & held by police and must be claimed by the registered owner. That's the extent of my knowledge on firearms, which isn't much.


    Ms.P
  11. by   MsPiggy
    Also, the more I think about this perhaps the Pt was really trying to make a good judgement call ; seperate the gun from the ammo but was just so out of it coming down from various substances that he just took the clip out & threw it in his siutcase? I dunno, the whole day was eerie, and while I don't like to make a mountain out of a molehill, safety-wise I do want to always error on the side of caution, kwim?

    The Pt was very cooperative the entire intake process btw..

    -Ms.P
  12. by   GregRN
    Laws will vary by state. However, in most states, carrying a LOADED gun, even if transporting to/from a gun range, would be illegal or require a permit. Transporting a gun that is empty and the ammo is kept separate is usually fine. However, if your facility makes it illegal to have guns on the property, then it should be secured or confiscated. HIPAA (NOT HIPPA...pet peeve) protects medical information only, and doesn't protect them if they are breaking the law. There is no such thing as "HIPAA client privilege" outside of medical information.
  13. by   AirforceRN
    Wow, this is like a whole other world to me...I'm so glad that us Canadians aren't allowed to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise. The idea of patients coming into a hospital with a weapon scares the poop out of me. In some ways the US and Canada are very much alike, in other ways we aren't on the same page, or even in the same book.
  14. by   GregRN
    Quote from AirforceRN2b
    Wow, this is like a whole other world to me...I'm so glad that us Canadians aren't allowed to carry weapons, concealed or otherwise. The idea of patients coming into a hospital with a weapon scares the poop out of me. In some ways the US and Canada are very much alike, in other ways we aren't on the same page, or even in the same book.
    The argument is that a policy or law banning firearms isn't going to keep someone who WANTS to bring a firearm from doing so. Even the guy in this example, who claims it was an accident, was able to bring a firearm on campus. Unless everyone is being searched, a policy or law banning firearms doesn't make a place any safer than a facility that doesn't have a policy or law. Cruel world.

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