Security professionals in health care are relied upon to both mitigate and manage huge complexes and remote facilities. The need to balance and maintain a welcoming environment, while protecting the people and assets within these healthcare facilities is a monumental task.
Hospitals face a multitude of security threats regarding people and property. Solutions for healthcare security must safeguard staff, patients, and visitors and address the theft of drugs and medical supplies as well as patient and hospital data. The hazards inherent in the hospital environment put a strain on the hospital security staff.
The security risks in hospitals continue to rise. Increasingly, security in hospitals and healthcare facilities are dealing with patients who are mentally ill and/or suicidal. The emergency room is sometimes the only choice for these people to get help due to diminishing communitywide mental health resources. Healthcare professionals face a growing challenge in supporting patients who have mental health issues. Security staff not only has to worry about the safety of these patients but are also charged with keeping the staff and visitors from becoming victims of violent behavior.
Competition between healthcare organizations is placing greater emphasis on patient satisfaction and retention. Nurses and other staff often assume that the administration puts patient satisfaction above their personal safety and regard violent behavior as part of the job.
Hospital personnel needs to recognize that this behavior is not tolerated. It is also important that healthcare providers know how to identify and handle patients who have mental health issues. Experts indicate verbal signs of mental instability can include slurred speech, nervous laughter, talking to themselves, and paranoid commentary. Nonverbal signs of mental instability can include hitting themselves, staring, refusing eye contact, and excessive sweating.
Many hospitals have removed restrictions on visiting hours to create more welcoming open environments. Security staff is charged with ensuring the safety of more people coming and going throughout a facility. Active shooters situations are another growing security concern due to the open nature of the facility. Active shooter incidents are often unpredictable and evolve quickly.
Healthcare organizations today are spread across wide regions and sometimes throughout the country. They comprise hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, urgent care, rehabs, and other health centers. In order to properly secure these different types of facilities, easily identify occupants, and have the proper controls and privileges placed on their access, healthcare organizations need to implement an integrated approach to security systems that incorporates video, access control, visitor management, IT, and other systems. Using the latest Internet Protocol (IP) network electronic systems allows for remote monitoring of all locations via laptop, mobile device, or anywhere an Internet connection is available. A more centralized and streamlined integrated security and monitoring operation can automate key processes and optimize response.
In addition, cohesive security and staff guidelines and comprehensive training are necessary. A strong training and restraint program should be designed by all parties involved and include the expertise of representatives of behavioral health, clinical, security, patient safety and risk management to create and implement a continuing safety plan. Staff training should be developed and enhanced to reflect today’s threats and vulnerabilities. While there is an inherent need to balance patient satisfaction with hospital security, all employees should understand that they are part of the security team.
Total Security Summit
Join us for the Total Security Summit, a complimentary event specifically targeted for senior-level Security Professionals in all sectors of the workforce, including healthcare. Our next event takes place April 29 & 30, 2019 in Franklin, TN. Stay for free at the Marriott Cool Spring and network with your peers while sourcing new and innovative security solutions.