According to the CDC, of the 20,870 workers in private industry that experienced trauma from workplace violence in 2019, a staggering 70% worked in the healthcare sector. From doctors and nurses to healthcare assistants and receptionists, people employed by healthcare organizations are significantly more likely to experience violence at work than those in other areas.
Most hospitals in the US have a long list of procedures, rules, and regulations designed to keep staff and patients safe. These procedures can help to significantly improve hospital security, protect hospital staff and make healthcare centers safer places to be.
The Importance of Safety and Security in Hospitals
Safety and security are important issues both for hospital staff members and their patients. According to the Joint Commission, healthcare workers are around 4 times as likely to experience workplace violence compared to workers in private industry as a whole. This high rate of violence can increase staff turnover and even put people off entering the industry in the first place. Developing healthcare security, and creating a more secure environment, can improve staff retention and ensure that patients get the care they deserve.
Procedures for Workplace Safety
There are a number of procedures hospitals and healthcare centers can implement in order to improve workplace safety. These range from simple measures like checking visitors’ driver’s licenses and issuing wearable panic buttons, to conducting thorough background checks on candidates that reply to job postings.
Wearable Panic Buttons
Wireless panic button systems can help to significantly reduce instances of workplace violence. These systems allow hospital staff to call for help whenever they feel threatened or when they spot violence, unauthorized visitors, or anti-social behavior on the premises. When the panic button is triggered, hospital security professionals are given the exact location of the person who needs assistance. This helps doctors, nurses, and other hospital employees to get help fast.
In a recent drug addiction center that used ROAR's system, the facility helped reduce patient on staff assaults by 39% and workers' compensation claims by 24%. Knowledge of the system helped reduce the frequency of assaults, similar to ADT home security signs. Read more about the use case on MedCity News.
Access control is an important element of hospital safety and security. Restricting who comes into the emergency department, wards and parking lots will help to keep a healthcare facility secure. Access to these areas can be controlled using manned security services, automated barriers, or CCTV systems. Staff can be issued with electronic keycards to allow them to access all areas of the hospital safely and securely.
Video surveillance can be used to improve monitoring throughout a hospital or medical center. As well as helping to identify people that may assault staff or steal valuables, video surveillance can act as a deterrent. CCTV systems have been shown to reduce levels of crime, especially when they’re combined with other deterrents like bright lighting, increased numbers of security personnel, and targeted training programs.
Keeping Records of Staff, Patients, and Assets
Record keeping is another important element of hospital safety. Knowing exactly who is on-site at any particular time can help you to keep your premises secure and ensure there are no unauthorized visitors who could pose a security risk.
Patients and visitors should be required to sign in or notify a security officer when they arrive on the premises. Staff can be issued with electronic access keys to allow them to move freely throughout the hospital while keeping wards and treatment areas secure. All entry and exit records should be easy to access and easy to verify.
As well as keeping notes of the people on the hospital premises, healthcare providers should make records of their assets. This can include any valuables that are accessible for patients or staff and could cover everything from computers and TVs to medications.
Security Personnel Availability
Ideally, healthcare security officers should be available to doctors, nurses, and other employees at all times. Having full-time security on hand will ensure healthcare workers have the support they need and that they feel secure whenever they’re on the job.
A security guard should be posted in the emergency department and other areas easily accessible to members of the public. If possible, there should also be a hospital security officer on each floor, or each wing, of the building. The more security staff there are available, the easier – and quicker – it should be for people to get help when they need it most.
Procedure for Patient Safety in Hospital
Patient safety is just as important for hospitals as staff safety. Putting procedures in place can help to protect patients from theft, falls, and injuries and keep their data secure while they’re getting the treatment they need.
Carrying out identification checks is an easy and effective way of improving patient safety in hospitals. All staff working in a hospital should have a thorough background check before their employment begins. This check should cover everything from their high school diploma to their medical qualifications.
A thorough background check should reveal any issues with the prospective employee’s suitability. If any criminal convictions or other serious issues are uncovered, they can be properly addressed before the person starts work. In some cases, background checks can reveal that a candidate is not suitable for the role, or even that they may pose a risk to patient safety.
Personal Information Security
Medical information can be incredibly sensitive. Keeping this data secure is therefore essential if patient safety is going to be fully protected. Hospitals that have an online security department can implement cybersecurity infrastructure to prevent hackers from accessing patient information. Alternatively, third-party consultants can be used to help healthcare providers beef up their security.
Hospitals also need to protect on-site files and folders containing patient data. This can be done by securing filing cabinets containing patient data and by posting a hospital security guard within sight of the main storage area.
Infections and Fall Checks
Every year, more than 250,000 people are killed by hospital errors, accidents, and infections. Even more are left injured. Preventing these incidents is an important step in maximizing patient safety and ensuring their wellbeing.
Hospitals should make sure patients remain seated or lying down until they’re able to walk around unaided. Removing trip hazards and installing grab rails can help to prevent falls while regular fall checks will ensure anyone that does have an accident is found as quickly as possible. The best way to reduce the rate of infection in a healthcare center is to ensure staff and cleaners maintain the highest possible levels of hygiene.
The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) publishes guidelines describing how hospitals can best protect their patients from infection. These can be found on the IAHSS website.
Electrical Appliance Checks
All electrical appliances used by patients should be checked to ensure they’re safe. These checks should be carried out on an annual basis or at the interval outlined by the governing body in the local area.
Keeping Your Valuables Safe
Creating a secure environment in a hospital or healthcare center will help to prevent theft and keep patients’ valuables safe. Where possible, lockers should be provided and site access restricted to patients, healthcare professionals, and a limited number of visitors.
These procedures can help to protect patients and staff from violence, theft, and accidental injuries. To learn more about the security programs available to hospitals, and find out how our panic buttons systems are already protecting healthcare workers across the country, get in touch today.