Weapons Retrieved after the Implementation of Emergency Department Metal Detection

S. Terez Malka, Robin Chisholm, Marla Doehring, Carey Chisholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background Several high-profile violent incidents have occurred within emergency departments (EDs). There are no recent studies reporting the effectiveness of ED metal detection. Objective Our aim was to assess the effect of metal detection on ED weapons retrieval. Methods In September 2011, a metal detector was installed at the entrance of an urban, high-volume teaching hospital ED. The security company recorded retrieved firearms, knives, chemical sprays, and other weapons. We performed qualitative analysis of weapons retrieval data for a 26-month period. Results A total of 5877 weapons were retrieved, an average of 218 per month: 268 firearms, 4842 knives, 512 chemical sprays, and 275 other weapons, such as brass knuckles, stun guns, and box cutters. The number of retrieved guns decreased from 2012 to 2013 (from 182 to 47), despite an increase in metal detection hours from 8 h per day to 16 h per day. The number of retrieved knives, chemical sprays, and other weapons increased. Recovered knives increased from 2062 in 2012 to 2222 in 2013, chemical sprays increased from 170 to 305, and other weapons increased from 51 to 201. Conclusions A large number of weapons were retrieved after the initiation of metal detection in the ED entrance. Increasing hours of metal detection increased the number of retrieved knives, chemical sprays, and other weapons. Retrieved firearms decreased after increasing metal detection hours. Metal detection in the ED entrance is effective in reducing entrance of weapons into the ED. Metal detectors may offer additional benefit in reducing attempts to enter with firearms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-358
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • administration
  • employee safety
  • operations
  • patient safety
  • violence
  • weapons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Medicine(all)

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