January 2015: Dr. Michael Davidson, a Boston cardiac surgeon, was fatally shot outside a hospital examination room by the son of a former patient who was upset about his mother’s death, for which he blamed the surgeon. Police reported the gunman walked into the hospital, shot the doctor twice and then killed himself.

July 2017: Dr. Todd Graham, an Indiana orthopedic surgeon, was fatally shot by the husband of a patient because the surgeon refused to prescribe opioids to his wife. Following his wife’s appointment, the angered husband followed and shot Dr. Graham while in his office parking lot. According to police, the gunman later killed himself.

The crimes described above, while shocking, are a symp-tom of a larger problem in the health care system as a whole – violence directed against providers by patients and their families. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has defined...

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