The shooting Wednesday of Dr. Rodger Haggitt, a professor of pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center, by a resident physician under his charge, provides the latest ghastly example of violence in the workplace.
According to officials, the physician, Dr. Jian Chen, had not measured up to the demanding standards of the program and was set to be fired. Haggitt had promised to help him get another position elsewhere, but that did not deter Chen.
Violence in the workplace is not a new phenomenon. But it seems to have become more widespread in recent years, not just in places of work but more alarmingly in the schools.
Easy access to guns no doubt aids this violence. Metal detectors can help keep guns and other lethal weapons out of the workplace. But those desperately seeking revenge will always find a way.
Less-drastic measures might prove more helpful in the end. Each organization has to ensure that its grievance mechanism is known to employees and to members of its relevant publics. It also has to ensure that the mechanism is accessible, responsive and fair. Expert counseling should be provided. Dr Chen had told his colleagues at UW that he was going to buy a gun. They knew Chen was not going to graduate from the program. There is no foolproof way to head off murderous intent, but an alert monitoring system offers some possibility of heading off tragedies such as the one that unfolded at the UW.