This Won’t End Here by Pat Conrad MD

A doctor went nuts this weekend, walked into his hospital with an AR-15 under his lab coat, and shot six, killing one.  “Dr. Henry Bello then shot himself, and staggered, bleeding, into a hallway where he collapsed and died with the rifle at his side, officials said.”  According to an email sent by the perp, “the hospital terminated my road to a licensure to practice medicine.  First, I was told it was because I always kept to myself. Then it was because of an altercation with a nurse.”

Bello blamed another physician for preventing him from achieving full licensure, had sexual harassment allegations against him, and was described as “aggressive.”

A staff doctor states, “We fired him because he was kind of crazy.  He promised to come back and kill us then.”  Bello was a foreign medical graduate who had previously been working “as a pharmacy technician at Metropolitan hospital in Manhattan because he was having a hard time getting licensed as a physician, but quit the job in 2012 and filed for unemployment.”

It is not yet clear if there was selectivity in Bello’s targeting.  I don’t blame the hospital, the licensing system, foreign medical education, or anyone other than the perp.  At best he was a sad, sick person, and worse, might have been very bad, even evil.

I’m not doing one of my typical smart-ass “gone wild” entries, because I saw nothing funny in this story, and still another aspect that is really worrisome.  It is well likely that Bello was actually “aggressive”, but that is a term akin to “disruptive” that has been used to threaten, slander, and punish good physicians.  Every one of the several hospitals I work in have signs posted prohibiting weapons, and I know several very fine physicians who routinely ignore them.  While I do not have a firearm in the ER, I can get to one quickly enough.  I don’t want widespread weaponry in hospitals, and yet they do draw as many crazies per capita as rallies for free health care.  What worries me is the typical mass media feeding-frenzy-cum-policy that will further restrict, and yes, target physicians who did nothing wrong.  New mandatory CME on workplace violence, more physical and mental screenings for health care workers, more overreaction for argument responses that would go unremarked on an assembly line floor, and probably a new MOC angle on gun safety.  Hand-wringing politicians would love to find reasons to randomly drug test, metal scan, and body search any and everyone.  Sadly, the six that were shot were not the only ones who will be targeted.

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