Hospitals are supposed to be sanctuaries for the sick, but all too often they are also hotbeds of criminal behavior across Tampa Bay. Records show police respond to calls at area hospitals as often as seven times a day.
A national survey by a hospital industry safety foundation indicates that violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault occur at an average rate of once a year for every 100 hospital beds.
Simple assaults occur at nearly ten times that often.
“That’s a high rate,” said Jay Wolfson, Associate VP of Health law, Policy and Safety at the University of South Florida.
“Hospitals are not a place, as are schools, where we expect these bad things to happen. We presume they are safe.”
An 8 On Your Side investigation shows that police show up at Tampa Bay area hospitals hundreds of times a year, sometimes as often as seven times a day in response to reports of theft, auto burglaries, suspicious activity and assaults, often committed by unruly patients against hospital personnel.
“What is not uncommon is patients reacting to their circumstance, getting angry with staff, hitting them, scratching them, throwing things at them,” Wolfson said.
“This actually happens with some frequency.”
Our 8 On Your Side investigation also uncovered hospital workers stealing from patients.
Sometimes the hospital itself is the victim.
Thursday at 6 p.m, 8 On Your Side takes a close look at why police show up at area hospitals as much or more often than just about any other location in Tampa Bay.