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Lately, crime victims are worrying less about violence following them into the hospital.

Total crime is down 21 percent in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for January to December 2012 as compared to 2011, according to the Division of Public Safety.

Crime has decreased by 13 percent in the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said that of the overall crime that occurs in these hospitals, two of the key issues they both face are simple assault and theft from building.

Rush explained most of the theft is of unattended items. She also said simple assault is defined by a lower-level attack — that is, no broken bones are involved and no hospitalization is necessary, but the victim is pushed or touched in a way that is still a crime.

However, the numbers of these incidents have decreased as well. Theft of unattended items has decreased 35 percent in HUP and 15 percent in Penn Presbyterian since 2011. Additionally, simple assault is down 11 percent at HUP and 50 percent at Penn Presbyterian.

Oftentimes, assault occurs when patients are not totally coherent due to medication they have been prescribed or have consumed illegally. According to Rush, being illegally drugged is no excuse for a patient to assault a health care provider.

Violence sometimes breaks out when the families and friends of victims accompany patients to the hospital and “cause a ruckus,” Rush said.

In the event of any type of assault, the victim reports the incident to a supervisor who then communicates directly with Penn Police to determine whether or not an arrest is possible. If it is a simple assault, the event is usually referred to the district attorney’s office who then decides if an arrest can be made.

Rush said there is typically no pattern to simple assault. “Simple assault, frankly, will go up and down depending on the client,” she said.

It is also difficult to pinpoint one particular cause for theft from the buildings. As most of the theft is of unattended items, incidents could occur anywhere from an unlocked office or an open area.

In order to combat this type of crime, HUP and Penn Presbyterian utilize unattended theft notices such as flyers so doctors and other staff remain aware of their belongings.

Further security measures are used to prevent assault and unauthorized weapons. For instance, one must go through a metal detector before entering the emergency department of HUP.

Rush said sometimes people admit they possess a gun before walking through the metal detector. The firearm is subsequently confiscated and returned only if security has confirmed the individual is permitted to carry the weapon.

Penn Presbyterian will soon be installing a metal detector as well.

Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the Penn Health System Susan Phillips attests to the overall decrease in crime in Penn’s hospitals.

“Crime on our premises is a rare occurrence and we are grateful to our security staff for keeping our patients and staff safe,” Phillips said.

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