We lost another fine surgeon today, and I lost a friend. Dr. Michael Davidson was murdered today in his office at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, MA. The suspect, apparently the son of a patient of Dr. Davidson, confronted Dr. Davidson in a patient room then shot him twice before turning the handgun on himself. This hits close to home not just because I trained at the Brigham but also because I trained with Dr. Davidson. He was intelligent, reasonable and an outstanding cardiac surgeon. There have now been several surgeons murdered by patients in the past few years, with two urologists being killed in their offices. One has to wonder and worry whether this is a growing trend, like school shootings. And whether doctor violence is now being seen as an acceptable solution. Doctors are human. We make mistakes. Those mistakes may have taken the life of a loved one. They may have resulted in debilitating complications. They may have resulted in a communication error, or to a billing error, or maybe there was just plain bad luck. No matter the situation, violence towards healthcare professionals is never excusable.
I think about the safety of my staff often. They are also human. They are not punching bags. They are there to provide patients with service to the utmost of their abilities. Whenever I hear of someone who has been verbally abusive or physically threatening to my staff, I think about the line of healthcare providers who have provided the ultimate sacrifice taking care of patients. Let's keep calm so we can all carry on.
In great sadness for Dr. Davidson's passing,
Y. Mark Hong, MD