Terrorist attacks against healthcare facilities involving hostages





terrorism and hostages, hospital hostage-taking, healthcare hostage preparedness


Introduction: The incidence of terrorist attacks against healthcare facilities has been increasing over recent years. In addition to direct attacks on physical structures, many attacks have involved taking hostages. Hospital and healthcare facilities remain historically underprepared for terrorist attacks, representing vulnerable locations. Yet, studies examining the frequency and reach of hostage-taking incidents within healthcare facilities are limited.

Methods: A search of the Global Terrorism Database was performed. A total of 191,465 terrorist attacks were identified. The database search was narrowed down to healthcare-related terrorist attacks (2,322) and then manually analyzed to only include those incidents which involved hospitals and hostage-taking (64).

Results: Sixty-four attacks against hospitals involving hostage-taking were identified. A total of 91 victims were injured in these attacks, and 47 were killed. The attacks affected a total of 23 countries worldwide, conducted largely by unidentified terrorist organizations, with approximately half involving firearms. Discussion: This study shows that terrorist attacks against healthcare facilities that involve hostage-taking have increased in frequency over the past 10 years and have global reach. Systems may still be underprepared for this potentially increasing phenomenon and require preparedness plans with education and simulated practice in place. Healthcare facilities should consider mitigation strategies such as preparedness drills and additional education.

Author Biographies

Reed Macy, MD

Emergency Medicine Residency, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland

Greg Jasani, MD

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland

Reem Alfalasi, MD

Department of Critical Care Medicine, New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York

Garrett Cavaliere, DO

Emergency Medicine Residency, University of Maryland Medical Center; Baltimore City Fire Department; Maryland ExpressCare Critical Care Transport Program, Baltimore, Maryland

Benjamin J. Lawner, DO, MS

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore City Fire Department; Maryland ExpressCare Critical Care Transport Program, Baltimore, Maryland


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How to Cite

Macy, R., G. Jasani, R. Alfalasi, G. Cavaliere, and B. J. Lawner. “Terrorist Attacks Against Healthcare Facilities Involving Hostages”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 19, no. 2, Apr. 2024, pp. 139-44, doi:10.5055/ajdm.0478.




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