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A Massachusetts hospital is mourning the loss of surgeon Dr Michael Davidson, who was shot and killed earlier in the week. (Image: WCVB)
A Massachusetts hospital is mourning the loss of surgeon Dr Michael Davidson, who was shot and killed earlier in the week. (Image: WCVB)

A tragedy in a US hospital has left two people dead – one a renowned endovascular surgeon – in what reports have suggested was a murder-suicide.

Dr Michael Davidson, director of endovascular cardiac surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts was shot twice by an assailant inside the medical centre on Tuesday morning.

The gunman, identified by police as Stephen Pasceri, 55 from Massachusetts, entered the building and asked for the doctor by name. The shooting is understood to have happened in a foyer between the waiting area and the examining room Dr Davidson worked at.

Directly after the incident Dr Davidson was rushed to the hospital's operating room where his colleagues tried to save him, however he died after several hours of surgery.

Disgruntled with health care system

Pasceri was an accountant and an active churchgoer, described by those who knew him as a "nice man".

He had in recent times become increasingly frustrated with the American health care system after his 79-year-old father died in 2011 following what was deemed a "short, unnecessary hospital stay". His anger had made him go to the media to publicly appeal for then-state Senator John Kerry to conduct a formal investigation into an $8100 medical bill.

Towards the end of last year Pasceri's 78-year-old mother died when Dr Davidson had been her specialist.

The hospital released a statement mourning the loss of the "wonderful and inspiring" surgeon: "(Dr Davidson) devoted his career to saving lives and improving the quality of life of every patient he cared for.

"It is truly devastating that his own life was taken in this horrible manner.

"At this time, Dr Davidson's family has requested privacy, and we ask for your support in honoring their request during this very difficult time. At this time, no one from BWH will be available to comment further."

Security measures

The shooting has reignited a long-standing public debate about hospitals in the US installing metal detectors.

Dan Diamond, a Forbes' contributor wrote recently: "A tragedy brings questions. It can even lead to action. And some now ask: Why not add metal detectors at hospitals? Could that have saved Michael Davidson?

"One problem is that hospitals – in the world that existed before Michael Davidson was gunned down on Tuesday, at least – generally don't want them."

"Instead, hospitals will likely focus on teaching their workers how to survive a shooting.

"To do the kind of scenario planning that the Brigham had trained for. To encourage staff to know when to flee, when to hide, when to fight."

Betsy Nabel, Brigham and Women's Hospital's president, said the facility would be evaluating its safety protocols, although there had not to date been any discussion about installing detectors.

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