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Types of Weapons and Patterns of Use in a Forensic Hospital
Melvin E. Hunter; Colleen Carney Love
Psychiatric Services 1993; doi:
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The authors acknowledge the assistance and support of Jon DeMorales, Ralph Goeken, Ben McLain, Henlie Sturgeon, Tera Cooper, Larry Holt, and Patricia Mensing. This work was supported in part by a grant from the Health and Safety Commission of the California Department of Industrial Relations.

University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing

1993 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe types of weapons and weapon use patterns among inpatients at a state forensic hospital to assist staffin evaluating the weapon-screening program. Methods: Data for a five-year period were drawn from special incident reports, hospital police crime reports, and supervisory logs to document weapon use in a 973-bed, all-male maximum security forensic hospital. Weapons were categorized as weapons of opportunity (objects available at the site of the attack) and manufactured or contraband weapons. Repeat use of weapons by a patient was documented. Results: Weapon use was relatively rare. During the five-year period less than 3 percent of inpatients used weapons, and less than 3 percent of violent incidents involved weapon use. Available objects were used in most attacks. Only 17 patients were responsible for a fourth of all weapons assaults, and these patients repeatedly used the same types of available objects, particularly furniture. Staff and patients were targeted equally in the weapon assaults. Conclusions: Weapon-screening programs may prevent weapon carrying but not weapon use. Detailed histories of weapon use should be part of each patient's assessment and should be made known to staff

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