Hospital Security Is Important
Be forewarned, if you have not been to an emergency room in several years times have changed and violence in hospitals has been on the rise for years.
Hospital Security Risks
Hospitals used to be a safe haven where people went when they needed medical care. However, over the last several years the number of violent attacks on staff has increased many times over.
In fact, violence against medical staff was a rare issue in the 1990’s or before, yet now healthcare has some of the highest numbers of assaults and batteries per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One of the major issues that we find when talking to Emergency department staff is that they fear for their safety. One recent hospital assessment we found that staff was so afraid they stated that their goal each day was to get to the end of their shift without getting injured or killed.
Security Risks and Mental Health Crisis
Many of the violence issues are a result of the mental healthcare system that is broke and underfunded, and it results in many patients with mental health issues being in limbo in ER’s from 10-72 hours awaiting placement in a mental health facility. ERs are not set up in many cases to deal with this type of patient, and therefore those patients are normally in the bed next to other patients. We have observed many times where these patients have had verbal and physical outbursts and have attacked others.
Security Tips for Hospital Security
We suggest that hospitals consider the following security tips to keep all their patients and staff in the ER safe:
- Seclude any “At risk” patient with the potential for violence away from others. This might include those that are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, as well as mental health patients.
- Screen all “At Risk” patients for weapons, this can include using hand-held metal detectors, but it could be as simple as removing and securing their personal property and clothes and placing the patient in a hospital gown.
- Search all rooms for potential weapons prior to and immediately after placing an “At Risk” patient in the room.
- Insure that all rooms used for monitoring or treating “At Risk” patients are free of potential hanging hazards.
- Any patient that is deemed “At Risk” should be under constant direct observation.
- Staff needs to monitor other patients in adjoining rooms to insure that they feel safe in the event that there is a verbal or physical altercation in an adjoining room.
- All ER and Security staff needs to train together for managing the aggressive behavior of a patient, visitor, or family member.
The tips stated above are a short list of hospital safety and security tips that hospital can and should take. If you work in healthcare you understand just how intense that it can get in the ER and in many cases it will seem like just another day. However, to many people in the ER as patients or visitors they will not likely be used to such a stressful and intense environment. That being the case watch for patients and their families that may scared and fearful if what is going on and if they ask to be moved to another part of the ER please accommodate them. Even if they do not ask, if you can tell that the environment is getting to the point where they are uncomfortable, do to them what you would do to your own family members that were in a similar situation.